Houston's extreme heat becomes needed backdrop for UH Cougars' workouts before Big 12 debut

Greg Bailey Image
Thursday, July 6, 2023
UH football forms team bonds in intense summer heat
Five days a week in the oppressive heat, the Cougars go to work. And they'll need it as they count down to their Big 12 debut.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- ABC13 Chief Forecaster David Tillman calls the recent run of triple-digit temperatures in Houston "extreme heat."

While the rest of us try to stay inside, the University of Houston football team embraces the challenge.

"Every day is a grind," sophomore wideout Stephon Johnson told ABC13. "They always tell us to strain. You can't finish without the strain."

Johnson is talking about the Cougars' summer conditioning workouts.

SEE ALSO: UH Big 12 schedule 2023: Houston Cougars host national championship runners-up TCU, Texas Longhorns

Five days a week in the oppressive heat, the Cougars go to work. The hardest part is getting started, and it's a process that can be emotional.

"It'd be hard for somebody that don't got their mind made up before they get out of bed if they want to become a better football player," senior linebacker Hasaan Hypolite, who's a Cougars captain, said.

Hypolite leads by example and tells his teammates to embrace the pain that comes with improvement.

"Getting better is supposed to hurt. You want to get better. A little pain, a little tiredness, a little sweat, a little heat - that ain't gonna get in the way," he said.

The Cougars are constantly in motion. They run until it hurts, and then, they run more.

Rule No. 1 is "Lift up your teammates."

Everyone struggles at some point, but they always try to encourage one another as the temperatures rise and the work gets harder.

"It really brings you closer as a team. It shows you who's up for the challenge and who needs to be lifted up," junior running back Tony Mathis Jr. said.

How seriously is UH taking the challenge of moving to the Big 12? The grueling conditioning workouts are only the beginning.

SEE ALSO: 'A historic and proud moment': University of Houston officially joins Big 12 Conference

"We go in there at 7 a.m. We're intense. We have one speed: fast. We're moving fast, but we have that chip on our shoulder," all-conference tackle Patrick Paul, who also leads separate workouts for UH's offensive linemen, said.

The Cougars understand that many doubt that they can compete at the top of the Big 12 this season. For now, they ignore the noise and go to work every day in the Houston heat.

Johnson sums up the summer conditioning with an eye on success on the field.

"I just know that I can go to work with all of my brothers and I know they'll do the same for me," he said.

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