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July 22, 2012
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. - Max Browne became suspicious when he scanned the Elite 11 itinerary and saw a three-hour window for players to spend time at the beach Friday morning.
The Elite 11 quarterbacks were awoken at 4 a.m., and by 4:45, while it was still dark, the players were at the beach unsure of what would happen next.
Browne said the players huddled in the hotel lobby asking each other what to expect. No one knew. There were some who thought it would be something pleasant. Others felt it would be some terrible workout. Webb considered yoga. Boy, was he wrong.
"We got there at 4:45 a.m. and we got out there and the Navy SEALs came out of the pathway and there were four of them, and we all kind of looked at each other like, 'Oh no,'" Browne said. "Right away it was right there in front of us."
Webb said: "It was very dark. Everyone was like, 'What do you think we're doing?' We got to the beach and I thought we were doing yoga or something. I look around and I saw logs, about six of them, and I said, 'What are those for?' Then we saw a Navy SEAL coming up and I said, 'No, it's going to happen.'"
What happened over the next few hours sounds excruciating.
All the quarterbacks had to run behind a Navy SEAL in the sand, six feet behind, and never get closer. For some unknown reason, Webb tested that order and ran in front of the Navy SEAL when he inexplicably stopped in the sand. The Prosper, Texas, quarterback quickly learned not to disobey an order.
"Let's just say I got yelled at," Webb said.
After the run, the players had to lock arms and enter the cool Pacific Ocean waters. Browne still had a sweatshirt on, it got soaked and the USC commit said it felt like about 30 pounds of unneeded weight.
They stood out there, one wave bashing into them after another, not able to move or duck out of the way. Just take it and stand there until instructed to do something else.
The push-ups came next. Players had to do them in the water and hold on the bottom which meant they had to immerse their entire heads underwater until the Navy SEAL told them to come up. Webb said the problem was that when one's ears are under the water it's difficult to hear so some players came up early.
"They got yelled at, too," Webb said.
"Cody (Thomas) is sick so he had to throw up, and the Navy SEAL said, 'I don't care, throw up, and then get back in there.' Some guys had stuff in their ears so they couldn't swim. He said, 'Keep your head barely out of the water.' I was like, 'Calm down.'"
Once the players got out of the water, they endured station drills such as carrying heavy logs, doing the Army crawl, long sessions of squats and other miserable objectives in the early morning hours.
There was a tug-of-war challenge and, maybe most agonizing, an ice bath where players learned how to control their breathing.
"It was tough," Browne said. "Someone said it's not the quarterback's dream to do workouts like that. It's more designed for a linebacker so that's probably why Johnny Stanton did really well."
Staying in the cold ocean water was especially unbearable for the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Webb. Some of the bigger quarterbacks did not mind it as much, but it was definitely not designed for the Texas Tech commit.
Luckily, Webb was in the first group and the ice bath was still being filled. He skipped that one and was so thankful.
"For me it was tougher because I hardly have any body fat. For the fatter guys they were saying it's warm and I was like really?" Webb said. "Dude, it was freezing.
"I saw beach and free time and I said, 'Really?' We knew something was up. No one put this one together."