Another Day, Another Grueling Workout For Hog

FAYETTEVILLE — After another grueling workout Friday morning, Arkansas tight end Andrew Davie put on a hard hat and grabbed a sledgehammer.

As his teammates cheered, Davie swung the sledgehammer repeatedly until he had smashed a brick that had been placed on Arkansas' football practice field.

The brick was meant to represent the Florida Gators, whom the Razorbacks will play Oct. 4 in the fifth game of the 2008 season. And as Arkansas' "Grinder of the Week," it was Davie's job to break it into pieces.

"That's kind of our saying, ‘We're going to go out and move a mountain and we're going to move it one rock at a time,'" said Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp. "And that's why we go break a rock with our grinder of the week each week."

Initially unsure of what to expect, Arkansas' players have grown accustomed to Veltkamp's offseason workout program that's far from traditional. The Rocky-like workouts are intended to build camaraderie, challenge players and toughen them up for close games next season.

During Friday's workout — which was open to the media — Arkansas' offensive linemen, defensive linemen and tight ends took part in a series of exercises that caused some to vomit on the sidelines.

"We usually get about 10 (sick players) a day. It's normal," Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams said, drenched in sweat. "But the thing about it, they can throw up and then stand right back up and keep going.

"So as long as they're doing the work, it really doesn't matter what they do in between reps."

With loud rock music blaring in Arkansas' weight room, players took turns lifting weights over their heads and then bending down on each knee. But some of Veltkamp's more unusual techniques were on display a few minutes later when the Razorbacks took to the practice field.

The offensive linemen, already tired from the workout, put on black weight vests that had 25-30 pounds in them. They then split into two groups and crawled up and down a hill that led from the practice field to Razorback Road.

"It messes with your mind more than anything," Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs said of the crawling exercise. "Obviously, it's physically grueling, but at the same time, it's mentally grueling as well. So really it's just a change of pace and it kind of keeps things interesting around here."

Former Springdale High tight end Ben Cleveland, who has been slowed by neck and foot problems since arriving at Arkansas in 2006, was among the players who managed to get through Veltkamp's workout Friday morning.

The sophomore looked like his old self, as he sprinted around the field and ran through cones with his teammates.

Veltkamp said he brought the tradition of players "breaking the rock" with him from Louisville, where he served as Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's strength and conditioning coach.

Every Thursday during the offseason, Veltkamp said he and his staff will nominate players who have shown progress in the weight room to be the team's "Grinder of the Week."

A coach can veto a player for any reason, and something as simple as losing one pound during the week could cost a player the chance to "break the rock."

"Everybody is working hard to be the top grinder every week. That's the people who get to break the rock," Arkansas defensive tackle Patrick Jones said. "It's just a goal every week that you work for. It's showing (what) we're going to do (to) our opponents this year — break them."

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