Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert can't talk about specific players and how they did over the summer, but it's clear that he is pleased with what he got out of the Razorbacks.
He was brought to Arkansas by his old Wisconsin boss Bret Bielema and put in charge of whipping the players back into shape.
"Part of the reason Coach wanted me to come to the University of Arkansas was because of some of the stuff that we did at the University of Wisconsin," Herbert said. "The first thing is that when you create a training environment, you make it a place that guys want to come. If they enjoy being in the environment, then you expose them to things that make them better.
"I could tell guys what we are going to do, this is how it is going to make you better, but all that will fall by the wayside quickly if they don't see the results," Herbert added. "Once they see their body change, once they see the result, once they see their numbers in the weight room go up and their numbers (speed) on the field go down, guys start to become more interested.
"Really when it all comes around and they go through some training cycles and what happens, they are responsive to what you say and it is up to me to put them in the right situations," Herbert continued.
Herbert and his staff are in charge of the players all summer when the coaches are now allowed to be around the squad.
"I take great pride in it," Herbert said. "I think it is one of the things about Coach Bielema and myself. You earn that trust over time. When you get to the point where a coaching and a coaching staff understand how myself and my staff how we conduct our business. We are going to hold them to a high standard and we are going to put them into situations they need to be in to prepare them. It is a great responsibilty and ultimately we embrace it."
Herbert has seen a big jump from the entire offensive line – not just one individual on it.
"Really the entire group," Herbert said. "I think the biggest thing when I first got here in January, that was the group that jumped out at me the most in regards to 'this is where you are and this is where I need you to be.'
"I think right away the thing that I noticed initially was that they had a strong desire to get better and develop and be a dominant group," Herbert said. "That excited me because the want was there and I just felt like that I needed to show them the way and do some things to get them to the point to where they could go out and be what they wanted to be."
Herbert noted that the will to work is a big key.
"It is everything," Herbert said. "If you don't want to be great or you don't want to be a dominant offensive lineman, regardless of talent, you never will be. Because everybody has seen talent fall by the wayside. When you combine the want and desire – and I tell the guys all the time that wanting to and willing to are very different things. If you want to initially and you are willing to do what it is you need to do to put yourself in a situation...combine that with talent and that is a recipe for success.
"That is the biggest thing I saw – want – and then you ask them if they are willing to do and they answer in the manner that you would like to answer and say yes to that, then you show them the way."
He notes that one of the biggest challenges is convincing players they have to eat right.
"The biggest thing that all these guys have to understand is everybody wants to train to some extent," Herbert said. "You have some guys that don't necessarily care for the weight room – or didn't – but you can train until you are blue in the face and if you don't feed your body well, you don't hydrate the right way and you don't get the right amount of sleep, you don't take care of yourself, then you will never – and this is the key – be who you are capable of being.
"All guys have a different genetic potential and we talk a lot about being who you are capable of being and the only way you will ever do that is by doing all the things that you can to tap into who you are capable of being," Herbert said. "A lot of guys they want to come in and train hard, but as soon as they leave they don't want to feed their body well, they don't want to spread out their calories, they don't want to hydrate with the right fluids, they don't look at sleep as a part of training.
"You get them to understand some of these concepts and they start feel better and train at a higher level and their body starts to change and then all of a sudden, I got you," Herbert said.
He preaches to the Razorbacks to get their rest.
"The biggest thing is how you communicate," Herbert said. "One of the things that I do a good job of in my opinion is I understand training is what? It's breaking your body down so you can recover in a stronger state. That's what I tell them. That is what training is. That is what your goal is in the weight room. Your body will reap the reward of what you do tonight while you sleep. Your body has a chance to grow, repair and recover.
"If you deprive your body of that window – and I give extreme examples – 'what would happen if for the next three days you didn't eat, drink or sleep, how would you feel?' It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. If you focus on your sleep, your hydration and your nutrition then your body has a chance to thrive and reap the reward of what you do from a training standpoint."
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