Training NFL Talent
By Jamey Eisenberg
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Tony Villani has an impressive Fantasy roster. Except in this case the roster is real, and he's the quarterback.
Villani is the founder of XPE Sports, which stands for Xtreme Performance Enhancement. It is a training program designed for NFL players, and it's based in South Florida.
Villani works with rookies entering the NFL Draft to help them prepare for the combine. He also trains current players in the offseason to prepare them for the rigors of a 16-game season, and he has a proven track record.
In the past, Villani has worked with Hines Ward, Jamal Lewis, Takeo Spikes and Osi Umenyiora. More recently, Villani has trained Pierre Garcon and Jerome Harrison, and his rookie class this year included first-round picks Eric Berry, Kareem Jackson and Jahvid Best. He also worked with second-rounder Montario Hardesty and third-rounder Major Wright, among others.
"I tell anybody who wants to go to the NFL that maybe you're fast, maybe you're strong, maybe you're quick, but you're going to improve in all areas with Tony," Hardesty said. "I'm a testament to that. Tony knows what he's doing."
Villani's goal is to help players improve, and it's personal trainers like him who help NFL stars succeed. We're all aware the NFL has become a year-round profession, and players now want an edge along with OTA workouts, minicamps and training camp. That's where Villani comes in.
He works on fitness level, explosion workouts and speed drills -- any kind of training to help players gain an extra step. He's not afraid to go off the field and out of the weight room, and his players respect that.
For example, Hardesty said a day at training was spent at the beach with players having to leap over waves in the ocean. As a running back, Hardesty said this was a good drill to prepare for tacklers hitting him at the knees.
"It's all to get you in great shape," Hardesty said. "Tony has a lot of experience. He helped me get ready for the season."
Villani, 36, started out with the strength and conditioning departments with the Washington Capitals (NHL) and the Orlando Magic (NBA) before starting his program in Atlanta. He moved to South Florida and said "my program continues to grow, which is good."
His focus is on combine training and helping players improve their draft stock. And he got great results this year.
Berry, a safety, was the No. 5 overall pick for the Chiefs. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, had 19 reps in the bench press, leaped 43 inches in the vertical jump and 130 inches in the broad jump.
And Best, who is considered one of the most explosive rookies, was the No. 30 overall pick for the Lions. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash, did the three-cone drill in 6.35 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.17 seconds.
"He prepares us," Garcon said. "He makes us better. I was happy to be introduced to him."
Garcon said the best thing about Villani is he gets on the field with the players and does drills with them. He sprints, runs with the sled and sweats as much as the guys who, in some cases, are 15 years younger.
"I don't ask them to do anything I can't do," Villani said. "I've gotten slower over the years. They're beating me where in years past they couldn't beat me."
Villani's players don't get beat often on the field. That's because they are in great shape, and his training is a big reason for that.
For more information on Villani and his training program visit www.xpesports.com. You can also find out about the non-profit program XPE runs for high school kids, which encourages school work before football.