By Giselle Cancio
Mike Bercovici is the 2015 Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
D.J. Foster is one of just five players in NCAA Division I history to rush and receive for more than 2,000 yards in his career.
Gary Chambers led Arizona State in 2015 with 18.7 yards per reception, which was good for second in the conference for wide receivers.
They’ve been out on the turf together since 2012 as Arizona State football players.
Now the three former Sun Devils are training together at the Fischer Institute in Phoenix in preparation for key workouts, such as the NFL Scouting Combine, which all lead up to the NFL draft in late April.
“It’s been a fun process,” Foster said. “We’ve bonded, we’ve gotten a lot of work done in this last month and a half. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques from my 40 (workouts) to being a wide receiver so I definitely feel prepared and I’m excited for this next process.”
Chambers shared similar sentiments: He’s excited he’s been able to train alongside the men he’s shared a locker room with for the last four years.
“We’re all like brothers, you know,” he said. “I’ve been with them for so long and it’s really nice to be able to come up here and just continue to train with them. We are comfortable with each other, so they’re able to tell me some things that they’re seeing and I can do the same.”
Foster, Chambers and Bercovici are working alongside 17 other NFL draft hopefuls from across the country, all who have been training since their final college game.
The institute works on keeping the players’ bodies in the proper condition, through strength training, strategic workouts and proper diets.
“I’ve been in here getting stronger, trying to get faster, and learning a lot,” Chambers said. “These days are long, kind of rigorous and a lot of work but I’m used to that going through my five years at ASU.”
The three also are learning about the transition that comes from being college football players to potential professional ones, and Bercovici said it’s been a huge adjustment.
“The transition is everything you do: the way you eat, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you stretch, it goes on,” the former quarterback said. “But it’s also not being in a locker room with 120 goofy guys. I mean, there’s no locker room at all, you’re your own walking business now.”
Brett and Stephanie Fischer founded the institute in 1997 and they’ve worked with athletes in Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL as well as world-ranked tennis players.
But before training at the institute came the long hours that turned into days at Arizona State for each of these NFL aspirants.
ASU coaches helped Foster improve as both a wide receiver and a running back, and he is grateful he had that opportunity.
“Being able to not only showcase my skills, but making me understand the game on the board whether that is talking about coverage, talking about blitz and just being a student of the game. [ASU] has helped me a lot,” Foster said.
Although their days as players at Arizona State are in the past, they’ll always have Sun Devil pride.
“I think ASU has prepared me tremendously, just the way to learn how to become a professional and the characteristics that are necessary to succeed in life, not just in football,” Bercovici said. “Wherever I’m at in 20 years, when the Sun Devils are playing, you can count on me to be screaming and yelling at the TV because that’s what a Sun Devil for life really is.”