Herbert: Hogs Prepared for Spring

Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert has a reputation for making transformations. He's had a couple of months with his new players in Walker Pavilion to begin his magic.

Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert met with the media via teleconference Wednesday. He likes where the Hogs are at as spring football drills begin Sunday.

"As of right now, we are finishing up the eighth week of our training cycle," he said. "The first week was baseline evaluations to get an idea of where we are.

"Today, we'll have a competitive environment with the coaches and finish the cycle tomorrow and prepare for spring ball Sunday."

How did the junior college transfers -- Mike Tavares, Tequention Coleman, Carroll Washington andJohn McClure and handle the winter?

"First and foremost, I have a very good impression of all of those guys," he said. "Right out of the gate, they adjusted well to the environment and their new teammates.

"Across the board, they all were able to change their body and move forward. Mike, he's as physically talented as guys I've seen. Runs well and is explosive.

"Carroll Washington is another guy is physically special. He's a strong kid. Has a desire to get better. He has great quicks.

"Washington put on 17 pounds in seven weeks. He started at 169 and is right at 183.

"McClure, he's a big, thick kid and has started to decrease body fat. He likes the weight room. He likes the squat rack, what big guys need to do well.

"All of them are contributors as we move forward.

"As far as leadership, those that have jumped out and it's communication and work ethic are Travis Swanson, Kiero Small on offense. On defense, Trey Flowers doesn't say a word, but is one of the most respected players. Chris Smith has made strides. He's become more vocal. Byran Jones and Robert Thomas. On the back end, Tevin Mitchel and Eric Bennett have stepped up. On defense, it's by committee. On offense it's clear cut with those two.

"There are a lot of guys - the wide receiver group, Julian Horton, MeKale McKay, Javontee Herndon, Demetrius Wilson, De'Arthur Cowan -- there are six, seven guys who started to change their body. Jonathan Williams have done great things.

"The guys up front, the tight ends and offensive line guys, I tell them they are going to set the table for what they do the football field in the weight room. They were not real comfortable in the lower body. They have attacked everything.

"The O-line group and quarterbacks are the guys who finish each day. Those two tight ends, Alex Voelzke and Mitchell Lowen, they are turning into guys who are really starting to flourish.

"Defensively, some of the young defensive linemen have been impressive, guys like Demarcus Hodge, Darius Philon and Deatrich Wise. Wise has a chance to be a stud. At linebacker, Jarrett Lake has been as good inititally as I've seen. He can really run. I hope it carries over to the field."

Herbert said the Hogs are healthy. Running back Kody Walker, coming back from a broken leg, will be "limited" in the spring, but has been impressive over the eight-week workouts.

"Physically, he's a stud," Herbert said. "He's a big, dense kid, a 240-pounder who is rock solid. He's still got a ways to go (in the rehab) and his role will be dictated by (trainer) Matt Summers."

Small, also coming back from a broken foot, is good to go.

"I may have heard him mention the foot a couple of times early, but that's it," Herbert said. "I don't think there are any limitations."

Small and Swanson are two of the key leaders.

"It means everything to have them," Herbert said. "They complement each other. They come from two different backgrounds, but they have respect from the team across the board. Offense, defense, young and old, they respond to those guys. I can see why, too. They say what needs to be say and don't over state it. They work their tails off."

Herbert was asked about young linemen Jeremy Ward, Cordale Boyd and Grady Ollison.

"Ward, I'm really excited about," he said. "I like the way he approaches the weight room. He's undersized. He's in the 283-285 range. He has to progress. I beat him up every day about feeding his body. He's lean and dense. He has to put on a little more mass.

"Boyd, I have no clue as to what he's capable of on the field, but in the weight room, he's impressive. He's as good in the weight room as I've seen for a young player. If that carries over, he'll be very successful.

"Grady, he's started to buy in. He just has to consume more than he's burning. He has a high metabolism. He's a leaner guy. He's a work in progress, but he's an athletic guy."

Herbert was asked about good walk-on stories. He noted that their program has a storied success of developing walk-ons.

"I'm excited about the starting left tackle, David Hurd," he said. "He's done a great job of changing his body. He's a quiet guy, but he drives himself. Left tackle is a premier position. He has to embrace that.

"Those two tight ends, Voelzke and Lowen, I can't say enough about them. We've had a lot of walk-ons in the past and out of the gate, I didn't know they were walk-ons. The first thing I told (Bret Bielema) was that I thought Lowen was a two-year starter and I'm not sure he even played tight end. He bends well and he has a little streak in him."

Herbert said linebacker A. J. Turner, who played as an undersized freshman, is still learning to add pounds.

"I've heard good things about what he does on the field," Herbert said. "But he doesn't bring a sense of urgency off the field and he's not consistent in our weight room. Some days he does OK. He's got a smaller frame and he's never going to be a 250-pounder, but he has to put on more lean mass.

"He has to feed his body, hydrate and be more consistent with it. Everything I've heard, he's a talented player. But he has to eat well and hydrate on a consistent basis. I think the desire is there."

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