Latest Sports Scores

Scoreboard

  • ALL
  • NBA
  • MLB
  • NHL
  • NBA
  • 4/23 6:30 PM EDT
    BOS0
    CHI0
  • Final
    CLE106
    IND102
  • Live
    HOU0
    OKC0
  • 4/23 9:00 PM EDT
    LAC0
    UTA0
  • MLB
  • Final
    ChC5
    Cin7
  • Final
    Hou6
    TB4
  • Final
    Bos6
    Bal2
  • Final
    Atl2
    Phi5
  • Final
    NYY1
    Pit2
  • Final
    Cle2
    CWS6
  • Final
    StL6
    Mil4
  • Final
    Det13
    Min4
  • Live
    KC2
    Tex4
  • Live
    SF0
    Col8
  • Live
    Tor0
    LAA1
  • Live
    Sea6
    Oak0
  • Live
    LAD0
    Ari2
  • Live
    Mia0
    SD1
  • 4/23 8:08 PM EDT
    Was
    NYM
  • NHL
  • Live
    OTT2
    BOS2
  • 4/23 7:00 PM EDT
    WSH0
    TOR0
  • 4/23 1:00 PM EDT
    ANA0
    CGY0
  • 4/23 1:00 PM EDT
    PIT0
    CBJ0

Football's future? QBs training with virtual reality

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Football's Future? Training With Virtual Reality


OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi quarterback Ryan Buchanan straps on a headset that covers his eyes, and instantly, he sees a scene that looks like a video game, all set from his perspective.

In about a minute, he runs through a handful of plays, checking his receivers, deciphering defensive coverages and making split-second decisions about where to throw the football.

And just like that, practice is over.

"I felt like I was in the future putting this thing on - something that you would see on TV shows," Buchanan said with a wide grin.

Getting a few "mental reps" has never been easier at Ole Miss: The Rebels are one of a growing number of football programs in the NCAA and NFL dabbling in virtual reality technology to help supplement work on the field.

Buchanan is one of three Ole Miss quarterbacks fighting for the starting job this fall. Part of their offseason regimen has been 10 tests on the simulator that include 20 plays each.

When it's time for the test, Buchanan can look around just like in real life, with a complete 360-degree field of vision. He hears the play call from a coach or another player and then checks the formation and reads the defense pre-snap. After the ball is snapped, he watches how the defense reacts and then turns his head to the player he wants to receive the ball.

If it's the right choice, the ball flies through the air and connects with the receiver. If not, the simulator informs the QB a wrong decision has been made.

The tests can even be loaded onto a smartphone app and then the phone can be placed into a portable headset. Quarterbacks could theoretically do the tests from home and then the results can be emailed to coaches.

"You do it over and over again, watching where guys go and seeing where windows open up on certain plays," Buchanan said. "It's pretty much what you see on the field."

Ole Miss is using a program developed by EON Sports, which is a subsidiary of EON Reality based in California. UCLA, Kansas, Syracuse, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and about 100 high schools are among EON's clients. Brendan Reilly - the company's 28-year-old CEO - says more potential clients are in the works and interest has been high.

Reilly said EON's software was partially developed from programs that do things like train fighter pilots and help doctors practice surgeries.

"Coaches already know how to make guys big and strong," Reilly said. "Now they want to figure out how to get them to make consistently better decisions on the field. We're figuring out ways to use data and technology to make that happen. And if you can game-ify the process to make it more enjoyable, players will hopefully embrace that."

Ole Miss graduate assistant Robert Ratliff spent several hours using the EON Sports software to install the team's offense into the system. He's also working on simulating defensive alignments for teams that the Rebels will face this season.

He said once the base system is installed, changing, adding or deleting plays isn't too difficult.

There is also a version of the simulator that uses real-life footage from the quarterback's perspective instead of a video game simulation. Ratliff said that version makes things more realistic, but once the video is taken, there is no way to change the play without filming another one.

EON Sports isn't the only company vying for clients in the world of virtual reality. A company called STRIVR also has a growing list of clients, including Auburn, Arkansas, Stanford, the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys.

"You're always looking for things to help you get better," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "The quarterback is one position that you can actually get some mental reps. Even if it's mental, it can help you in the fall."

Not everything can be simulated of course: The weather is always perfect when staring through the headset, the pocket stays relatively clean for the quarterback and the receivers always run a perfect route.

"And, of course, there aren't guys out there trying to kill you," Buchanan said laughing.

But the general consensus is the technology is only going to get better. And with limited practice time during the preseason, giving quarterbacks extra time to learn the playbook probably isn't a bad thing.

It's also a way to avoid risking fatigue or injury on the field. Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater immediately embraced the new training.

"It's going to be very helpful from the learning curve, for not only me but for other guys in the room," Bridgewater said. "We have backups who won't get the same amount of reps that I will get throughout the course of game week, so for them to be able to go in and steal reps is going to be very helpful."

Will it actually help the Vikings win more football games?

Zimmer isn't sure, but it's worth a shot.

"The jury is still out, but I think with the age of guys that we have now and the video games and all the things that they have, Teddy really liked it when he saw it," Zimmer said. "People we've talked to, they really like it."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

15 Recall the Kindest Thing a Stranger Ever Did for Them 15 Recall the Kindest Thing a Stranger Ever Did for Them
Man's Wife Leaves Him And Their Kids After A Fight - Two Days Later He Posts This Man's Wife Leaves Him And Their Kids After A Fight - Two Days Later He Posts This
Man Finds 5 Abandoned 'Puppies' In His Garden - Then Quickly Realizes He Made A Big Man Finds 5 Abandoned 'Puppies' In His Garden - Then Quickly Realizes He Made A Big