At its highest level, NFL football is about watching the best of the best compete against each other. Watching a beautiful pass or an exciting run in a high-intensity, competitive environment is what fans of the sport live for. So, it’s no surprise that coverage of football from the youth level all the way up to the NFL has overwhelmingly focused on the skills of those who pass, catch and run. But what about the big guys who are down in the trenches every snap of the game, on the line, for their team?
The Texas Lineman Challenge has finally given high school linemen fun and competitive off-season events to look forward to. The Big Man’s Brawl Texas Lineman Challenge includes several competitions at different high schools across Texas starting in early March until May, with a winning team at each event and an overall Texas Lineman Challenge Champion. Athlete Training and Health hosts their Big Mans Brawl on May 19 at their North Houston location. “The skill kids have the 7-on-7, and I thought the Big Man’s Brawl was a wonderful way for the linemen to stay involved in the summer, and to compete and have fun,” said 25-year veteran head football coach and former Greater Houston Football Coaches Association President Mike Jackson. Currently head coach and athletic director at Grand Oaks High School in Conroe ISD, Coach Jackson has been involved with the ATH Big Man’s Brawl for several years.
High school athletes have the opportunity to compete in multiple Big Man's Brawl events starting in March and ending in May. Locations include Hightower, Clear Lake, Manvel, ATH and Arlington.
“If you’ve ever watched the old strong man competitions, it’s a lot like that. It’s bench press, pushing sleds, it’s front push, tug of war, harness pull. It’s almost limitless in your imagination,” said Coach Jackson.
The variety of events at each Big Man’s Brawl challenges each lineman in a different way, resulting in gains that will transfer over to the football field and in powerlifting. It’s engaging your hips in those explosive movements that the best lineman work towards, improving everyday to be better than their competitor. Most competitions include an obstacle course, testing a lineman’s strength to out muscle their opponent, their endurance potential for lasting long periods of time on the field and the ability to work as a team. That results in gains far beyond what a player would be able to accomplish by only training in the weight room in the off-season.
Athletes who would otherwise spend their off-season only training in the weight room or on the couch watching TV are given an opportunity to work on their skills. “I am one that believes that any time a child is competing, they’re getting better,” said Coach Jackson, a two-time state champion.
Every event charges a registration fee which includes entry for each player and an event shirt provided by our event sponsor, Dick's Sporting Goods.
The competitive advantage these linemen gain from participating in one of the Big Man’s Brawl Lineman Challenges is unparalleled, simply because it is one of the few challenges of its kind for high school linemen in the state. Damion Square, a 6-year NFL veteran currently playing defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers and Houston native, said, “For some reason, football has always been like that. At its highest level, football is an entertainment business, so I think they start early with guys who catch the ball and throw the ball, and that’s just the nature of it. I think it’s important to focus on the guys that play more snaps than anybody. If there are 90 snaps in a game, offensive linemen play all 90 of those snaps, which is different from a receiver or a cornerback.”
Square, the founder of Hip 2B Square, puts on his own competitive football event at ATH North Houston, recalled attending camps growing up, and that the competition he was facing weekly in high school games would not have been enough to put him on a track to receive his Division 1 scholarship to Alabama. He says competitions like the Big Man’s Brawls are excellent ways for athletes to get in a competitive environment, show their skills and get it documented. “You need film and documentation of you competing against the best,” said the two-time BCS National Champion. “I think the reason why I got the opportunity to do what I am doing today is because I went to different camps. People started to see me competing against some of the better football players in the country.”
Competing against some of the best football players in the country elevates you as a competitor, but at events like the Big Man’s Brawl, there is no shortage of advantages as a teammate either. “Any time you can get another rep in with a guy you play with, that’s good. It builds chemistry. I think every defensive lineman should take that opportunity,” said Square.
Schools who participate in Big Man's Brawl competitions accumulate points at each event. The school with the most points at the end of the series is named the 2018 Texas Lineman Challenge Champion.
Although coaches cannot be directly involved with their teams during the Big Man’s Brawl, Coach Jackson says he takes this time to sit back and observe his team: “From a coaching standpoint, this is just one more way to sit back and evaluate your kids and use that data to determine who you can count on, who needs to get stronger or who’s doing a great job.”
With 183 overall wins in his career, Coach Jackson is familiar with the taste of victory. When asked what it means to win a competition like this in a notoriously competitive football state like Texas, he said, “It’s a tremendous competitive advantage, and it’s bragging rights.”
At each Big Mans Brawl Lineman Challenge, one school walks away a winner. But only one can be crowned the Texas Lineman Challenge Champion.
Looking for this type of invaluable experience for your team? Below is the schedule for this year’s Big Man’s Brawl events across the state:
Hightower: March 3rd
Clear Lake: April 7th
Manvel: April 21st
ATH: May 19th
Arlington High: May 26th
To register, you can visit the website BigMansBrawl.com and submit your teams information. Each Big Man’s Brawl has a max number of teams they can accept and tend to sell out, so make sure to get signed up today.
Do you think you have the strongest line in the state? Prove it.