"We've got a live one here."
That's how Arizona Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott, who famously runs the scouting combine bench press every year, started off the bench session of Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea.
Little did he know. By the time Paea was done, he had set a new scouting combine record, raising the 225-pound barbell 49 times. Paea broke the old record of 45, which was held by three players -- Mitch Petrus(notes) (2010), Mike Kudla (2006) and Leif Larsen (2000). Perhaps the most amazing thing about the video is that there are guys Paea's size (6-foot-1, 300 pounds), who lift about 30 times and are considered reasonably strong -- Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder only got 21 reps. But when he hits 30, Paea is just barely starting to look winded -- he just blows through the reps to an extraordinary degree.
For those who know Paea's history, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise -- the Tongan fireplug had been known to bench 500 pounds and squat 600; repping out at 44 on the bench before. Paea plays with a low center of gravity and has a great ability to move people around.
Asked if he was tired after pushing all that weight, Paea certainly didn't sound worn out. "I think I can go back and do another one. I came prepared for the worst, and I did my best today," he said.
But how does that strength transfer to the football field? "Football players, sometimes when you're tired like in the fourth quarter, and you're punching your hands into the tackle in the trenches, it's very important. My mindset I think is past 30 [reps], you're ready for the fourth quarter.
If that's the case, Stephen Paea took it to triple overtime, and blew everyone away in the process.