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Anthropometric Cross-Sectional Comparisons of College Football Players and Potential Health Implications

Jacobson, Bert H.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 12 - p 3358–3364
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824b5e6c
Original Research

Jacobson, BH. Anthropometric cross-sectional comparisons of college football players and potential health implications. J Strength Cond Res 26(12): 3358–3364, 2012—Current college football players appear to be larger in stature than those of the past, but few comparisons exist that have quantified such data over the span of over half a century. The purpose of this study was to compare anthropometric changes in college football players over a period of 7 decades and to address the health implications associated with extreme size. Offensive and defensive positions were targeted based on line play (offensive linemen [OLs] and defensive linemen [DLs]) or speed positions (wide receivers [WRs] and cornerbacks [DBs]), and data on height and weight were collected from official rosters provided by the participating National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I universities. The results indicated that OL significantly (p < 0.001) increased 50.8% in body weight (88.5 vs. 133.5 kg) and 5.4% in height, DLs significantly increased 50.9% in weight (87.2 vs. 131.6 kg) and 6.7% in height, WRs increased 7.7% in weight (79.3 vs. 85.5 kg) and 1.9% in height, and cornerbacks increased 10.1% in weight (78 vs. 86.7 kg) and 2.3% in height since 1950. There were no significant differences in weight by offensive line position (center, guard, and tackle) and no significant differences among class status. The extraordinary size of linemen begins in high school and is sustained through college and the pros. Without efforts in detraining, such extreme sizes may warrant concerns regarding injury, heat stress, obesity, and general health status.

School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology, Harrison Health and Human Performance Laboratory, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Address correspondence to Bert H. Jacobson,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association