Summer's A Crucial Time For UA Players

FAYETTEVILLE — For Arkansas' football players, summer is not a time of year to sit on the couch, soak up the air conditioning and enjoy some homecooking.

This is when players hit the weight room, hoping to use the long break to add muscle, improve their physical conditioning and get their bodies ready for the start of fall practices.

"More and more it's become where guys are on campus year-round to train," Arkansas strength coach Don Decker said. "Less and less (will you see) guys go home for the summer and come back. That's something that very rarely happens."

Arkansas' offseason workout program is not mandatory. It's encouraged, but players aren't punished by the coaching staff if they miss a workout or go several days without hitting the weight room.

That's where Arkansas' senior leaders come in. They can be very convincing when it comes to getting others players to attend the two-hour workout sessions, which occur four days a week during the first half of the summer and five days a week over the remainder of the break.

"It's not mandatory, but if they're there, we're allowed to coach them," Decker said, taking a break late last week.

Arkansas' strength and conditioning staff will work closely with a player to develop a workout program that's geared toward an individual's body and position on the football field.

For example, Decker said it was apparent that linebacker Chip Gregory had to get bigger after arriving at Arkansas last year at 205 pounds. He's now up to 225 pounds.

Meanwhile, sophomore Adrian Davis needed to bulk up so he could better handle his expected move from linebacker to defensive end. He's currently at around 235 pounds.

"Those kids have come a long way from the day they walked on campus at 200 pounds," Decker said.

Decker said he'll also meet with Arkansas' position coaches to find out what weight they would like for certain players — like wide receiver Marques Wade — to enter fall camp at.

"The difference between 195 and 190 (pounds) with a wideout, that's a big difference carrying around five extra pounds, the wear and tear on his legs and all that kind of stuff," Decker said.

The focus of the first part of the summer is for players to get stronger. They lift weight four days a week.

The second summer session is spent on getting players into better condition so they're ready for the start of preseason practices in early August. To do this, players lift three days a week and run four days.

For those Arkansas players who go home during the summer, there is a thick manual available that has 7-8 sections on everything from how to warm up before a workout to what type of speed and agility exercises to do. There is even a section on nutrition.

The training manual is primarily given to incoming freshman, though. Decker said he doesn't know how many players are currently on campus working out, but he figures it's the majority of them.

"We're squeezing about every drop out of them that we can squeeze," Decker said.

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