A lot of pro athletes think in dollars and cents. Cameron Wake speaks in seconds, minutes and hours.
For example, his meticulous diet:
“You have a salad and you have cookies,’’ Wake said recently. “To be honest, the cookies taste better. But they’re going to taste better for what, 10 minutes? Once they get in your body, now what? Twenty-four hours of crap. The salad might not taste as good for 10 minutes, but once it’s in your body for 24 hours, you’re getting all the positives.’’
Then there’s the best workout he has ever had, a cross-fit day of hell during his time at Penn State:
“Literally, you’re doing a lot of high-intensity moves, you get a very short rest, and you’ve got to go again. It used to kill guys,’’ he said.
“And now, the training we do is similar, because that’s what football is. You go pow, something, something, something, and you’ve got 30 seconds. And you have to go, go, go, go, and you’ve got 30 seconds to recover and go again."
So, yes, time is very important to Wake. It’s probably because he spent so much of it away from doing what he loves.
Wake’s journey to the NFL is well-known. Out of football for two years after a short-lived trial run with the Giants, Wake made ends meet as a mortgage broker and a gym attendant.
Most football players hit their peak in their mid-20s; Wake had never played an NFL down before his 27th birthday.
So, yeah, he’s making up for lost time, sack by devastating sack. He had 15 last year, a career high, earning All-Pro honors. Through four years, Wake has 43 — the fourth-most in the league since 2009.
No Dolphins player has ever had as many sacks in their first four seasons. And he’s back for more in 2013, in better shape than ever.
Pound-for-pound, Wake is among the strongest players on the team, Dolphins strength coach Darren Krein said recently. Ryan Tannehill calls him one of his strongest teammates, period.
“I might be the strongest-minded,’’ he said with a chuckle. “I don’t know if I’m the strongest.’’
Wake claims his max bench press exceeds 400 pounds. His best squat? “Probably closer to upper [500s],’’ he added.
Of course, his transformation from high schooler with no thought of playing professionally to elite NFL pass-rusher took years.
Wake said he truly got serious about fitness his sophomore year at Penn State, when making a career out of football didn’t seem so far-fetched.
And once he committed to changing his lifestyle, he has barely looked back. Junk food, alcohol and tobacco are strict no-nos. He makes sure to get the necessary amount of sleep. And he attacks the weight room like he does a rookie offensive tackle.
“What we always try to tell guys is, at the end of the day, your window of opportunity in the NFL is really short,’’ Krein said. “You can expand it if you’re willing to take steps to do the right things.’’
“What Wake does a really good job of is focusing on doing all those little things and doing everything he can to get a step ahead.’’
The results are tangible. He rarely misses a practice or finds his name on the injured list, Krein said. Wake is often the last one off the practice field, running wind-sprints while his teammates are already in the buffet line.
“He does so much above and beyond everybody else,’’ Krein added. “He definitely has his priorities in line. That guy can play for a long time at a high level, because he takes such good care of himself.’’