Trey Flowers likes to carry a big stick and skip the talking. But the man with tree trunks for arms decided it was time to do a little talking at Tuesday night's Arkansas team meeting.
Teammates say the long, junior defensive end from Alabama said all of the right things in a passionate speech that made quiet an impression because of his quiet nature. Flowers took center stage with permission from head coach Bret Bielema, obviously pleased with the leadership from within his first Arkansas football team.
"I think some of the seniors are really bothered about being picked seventh in the west and so I think Trey decided it was time to let the team know how we feel," said Austin Jones, senior linebacker. "We have a chip on our shoulder and Trey wanted to put it into words.
"He spoke for us. He stepped up last night. He wanted to make sure we were all busting our butts so we can prove everyone wrong."
Flowers said he told the team that the attitude needed was a hunger displayed by a stray dog. He said the August heat can't take away the hunger. It's about taking advantage of the new gifts they've been given, a new building and a new coaching staff.
There is no mistaking how much of a rare moment it was for the Huntsville, Ala., junior, perhaps the reason it made such an impact with the squad.
"Nah, I don't really talk a lot," Flowers said. "I was just spreading the message about the winning attitude we've got to approach. It's just about not letting nobody take food off our plate. Not letting heat take the food. Not letting being fatigued, being sore.
"It's just a dog mentality. Stray dog out there that has to eat. That was pretty much the message. Embracing a winning attitude, having the will to win and refuse to lose."
Why step up and talk?
"it's just been on my mind for awhile," he said. "It's been keeping me up. So I just, I mean, we've got a new facility, new coaches, might as well embrace it and let them know about the new attitude."
Was the big, quiet man loud?
"I guess I was loud enough," he said. "I hope they heard me. I tried to speak up. I asked coach for a mike, but he didn't have one. So I guess I had to talk a little louder."
There are 20 seniors, but Flowers took the center of the room more like a senior than a junior.
"It was just me and, we've got a lot of guys speaking and stepping up, though."
The seniors know their role. It's been reinforced by the coaches, with several meetings with Bielema. The seniors are forcing the action within the team -- along with Flowers.
"The (seniors are) getting on the young guys," Flowers said. "Me too. They're carrying the team. Putting them on their back and just letting them know this is the year, you know."
Flowers admitted there had been no such speeches anywhere in his career. That's high school, or at any level.
"I don't think I ever did that in high school," he said. "I'm more of a, during the battle type, remind them during the battle we've got to make it happen. That's not my real routine to speak before the season or after practice or nothing like that. I just felt like it had to be heard."
That helps carry more weight?
"I'm guessing," he said. "I guess that's what they say. I just wanted someone to feel me and understand the new approach we've got to take to be victorious. We've got to take a winning attitude and just win by any means necessary."
Flowers claim to fame was a 3.5-sack game against Auburn last year to spark a victory. Was this kind of like that statement
"Nah, that's a different plate, a different type of meal," he smiled. "That's good that I encouraged others. I just want to embrace that leadership if I get that tag on me. If I don't, I don't have to have the leadership. I just want to encourage others with attitude."
Sophomore inebacker Otha Peters said Flowers has the tag now. It's about earning respect for this team after such lowly predictions.
"Big Trey just wanted to get everybody on the team to know that we belong in the SEC," Peters said, "and that we're bigger and stronger and we can fight against whoever is against us on that field."
"Trey is a very quiet person. He doesn't really talk too much and he stays in the shadows. But last night when I saw him talk, I knew it meant a lot to him. I really took in everything he was saying."
Peters said the team has paid attention to all of the predictions and talk of a poor finish in Bielema's first season.
"We hear everything they're saying," Peters said. "So we're just going to show them what we've got that first game of the season when the SEC season starts.
"We really appreciate what Coach B tells us and he trusts us and he believes in us, which outside the state of Arkasnas I don't think a lot of people do. So that's where we'd like to be. We like to be at the bottom right now. So when the season starts it's kind of a shock to everybody else."
The shocker Tuesday night was the man in front of the team. Quiet Trey Flowers stepped up.
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