Every year one of my favorite interviews, and one of the most popular interviews on OUInsider.com, is with OU Strength and Conditioning Coach Jerry Schmidt. Below is part two of our exclusive summer interview with Coach Schmidt.
JH: Have the quarterbacks set any records on the bench or in any exercise yet? I know that Nate Hybl holds the bench press record for quarterbacks.
JS: "That is still to come because we haven't tested them yet for those kind of results. We will find out once we start two-a-days where we are at. I feel good about where the quarterbacks are at, but we will find out for sure then."
JH: I hear that all your running backs are great in your program, especially Jacob Gutierrez and Courtney Tennial, who haven't made their mark on the field yet. Are all the running backs good in your program?
JS: "They did a good job. And like I said the competition, helps out there, especially with KeJuan stepping up his work habits. He has always worked well, but he has always had trouble putting weight on. All the running backs have to realize the importance of their eating to put weight on or to keep their weight up. Good weight helps in staying durable, and to be a good running back in the Big 12 you have to be durable.
"Tashard Choice and Donta Hickson are good workers. Jacob benches over 430 pounds consistently. He had to increase his leg strength and he has done that. Courtney Tennial is another guy that is in here every day to challenge himself to push each other to high levels. That is going to do nothing but help us and help the offense. When you have guys who are that committed it rubs off on each other. They develop good work habits in here and they carry them over on the field."
JH: Did the running backs meet the weight goals that you set up for them?
JS: "D.J Wolfe was about 190 going into the summer and we just told him that to play in the Big 12 you have to be at or over 200 pounds. He just needs to keep maturing, and he has because he has put on eight pounds. D.J. runs hard and he runs every sprint hard, so he is always improving his speed and he attacks everything that he does. The running back group has really been a good group to work with this summer."
JH: How about your offensive line?
JS: "They did really well. Jammal (Brown) did a good job leading that group. They all did a great job. Vince (Carter) was slowed down a little bit because of his knee, but he finished the summer on an impressive note. Chris Bush had a good summer and Kelvin Chassion really needed to improve his lower body strength. He is up to 303 pounds now. He has done a great job this summer. Chris Chester, who moved from tight end, is up to 275 pounds. (Chester) has great strength and he has always run really well.
"I feel good where we are at in the offensive line, but we have to hope into two-a-days that their progress has to carry over. They have to keep their weight on during two-a-days to go into the season with their gains. I think that group has good leaders and a great attitude."
JH: All of your wide receivers look fantastic, so they must be great in the weight room and in your program?
JS: "I can't thank Mark Clayton enough for the work ethic that he put into this summer running his routes and doing all the things that they do. What they do is voluntary with the guys and the running and lifting they do is so important to the season. They do so much running during the season that you lose a little bit of the weight and strength. I think the season affected them during the year, which I took personally sometimes. At the end of the year they wore down a little bit and we are going to try to avoid that this year.
"Will Peoples and Clayton do a tremendous job in the program. Travis Wilson played at 215 last year and got down to 207, yet is stronger than he has ever been. JeJuan Rankins put on eight pounds, and I think that is going to help him stay strong throughout the season, get off the line of scrimmage and make the plays they need to make. We just have to continue to challenge them and help them to continue to improve throughout the season."
JH: All three tight ends had to get bigger and stronger, so how did they do this summer?
JS: "Bubba (Moses) had a great summer and right where we want him at 246 or around there. Willie Roberts has put on about eight pounds and he has the frame where he could put on more. We just have to keep after him to put weight on, but it is going slow. Joe Jon Finley is up 11 pounds and nobody has better work habits than this guy. Both of those guys work so well that they eventually will be able to put on the weight they want. Both will just have to be patient and stick with the plan.
"My hat also goes off to J.D. Runnels. Here is a guy who has been around, but who has had to deal with some tough problems in the past with the loss of his mom. However, he had the best summer of his career and he is up to 233 or 234. He has his body where he needs it to be and I think you are going to see some good things out of J.D."
JH: Did J.D. make the gains in the weight room that you were looking for?
JS: "Oh yeah, without question. He was very consistent this summer in the weight room and really improved himself, and that is going to carry over to the season. What really stands out in my mind out him is how good of a leader he is for us. He has stepped up with the Jason White's and Jammal Brown's and set the tempo for everybody else on offense."
JH: How is Bubba Moses doing this summer?
JS: "He is doing great. He is also a good leader, but a leader by example. He is up to 243 and is following his plan exactly like he is supposed to."
JH: Your defensive tackles do well in your program, don't they?
JS: "Dusty (Dvoracek) played at 288 last year and he is up to 300 pounds. His bench is going to be interesting. He is over 400 on the bench, but I am not sure how much he is over. Overall, Dusty is doing a great job and it is going to be interesting when we test him when they return for two-a-days. He is going to have really good numbers.
"Carl Pendleton had a great summer and got his weight up to 280. That is really good progress for him. Lynn McGruder has been really consistent this summer, which in the past was not his strong point. He is at 300 pounds and he played at 310 last year, so his workout is going to help his quickness. Steven Coleman is a big guy who has been really consistent in our program. He has done a great job for me in the weight room and really improved his body. He needs to continue maturing, but he has done a great job and he is a guy that always has a smile on his face. I really feel good where he is at in the program. We just need to keep bringing on those young guys and keep developing them. I think they are really going to help us."
JH: Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson are two of your leaders aren't they? Didn't 'JJ' weigh 218 when he first came to OU?
JS: "Yeah, he was at 218 and right now he is only in the 230's (238 ). I have banged my head up against the wall many times over Jonathan's weight because he is not really a big eater. He is a guy who runs well and has that body that is hard to put weight on. However, he looks good and is put together well and he has a great athlete.
"Nobody trains at the level that Dan Cody trains at. He trains incredibly hard day-in-and-day-out and by the end of the season he is worn down to a frazzle. He is either not doing anything or he is doing everything. I call him 'red line', because he is either full speed or not going. He is a guy that develops himself every year and I am just amazed at the numbers he can put up and the way he can run. Every day he is running every sprint as hard as he can. He just trains at such a high level. They have done a great job."
JH: How about the young defensive ends coming behind them?
JS: "Calvin Thibodeaux has done a great job and has really improved himself and matured during the process. Alonzo Dotson lost some weight, so we are a little bit behind on him. We have to continue to develop him because he is not at the level of those other guys right now.
"Larry Birdine needs to continue to mature because they work but they are not at the level those other guys are at. Those other guys are training at such a high level that it is hard to do it, but we have to keep working those young guys. John Williams has done a good job this summer and gained a little weight, but he also needs to continue to develop and mature as well."
JH: At linebacker, I know that Lewis Baker got mono so that hurt him. But what about that core?
JS: "Early, Lewis was struggling because he got sick and he dropped to 192 when he reported to camp. However, we have been able to get him back to 205 when he left and we have to continue to develop him. He is like Dotson, in that both of them need to keep eating and mature and develop. He trains at such a high level that he needs to eat and eat all the time and continue to mature."
JH: Did Rufus Alexander get all of his speed back from his ACL knee surgery?
JS: "Yeah, he did a great job getting everything back going into the camp except for that first-step quickness where it use to be. So, we took him all summer and trained him on the hill and did some things with him speed-wise. We feel real good about where we are with him right now. Rufus is running 4.6 again and he has that quick step again. We think he is back to the level where we think he is going to compete at."
JH: We never talk about Gayron Allen and we should talk about him all the time. And what about Clint Ingram?
JS: "Gayron is steady on the field and the same goes for his conditioning. He is never going to do anything that he is not supposed to. He is never going to run a 4.4, but he is consistent in what he can do. He is always going to be there and he has put on 10 pounds, which is really going to help him physically. Gayron had a great summer.
"Clint Ingram runs a 4.5 and he had the best summer since he has been here. He has really matured and he is benching over 400 now. He was up to 235 when he left. Here is a guy who has had trouble putting on weight in the past and he is now physically the best he has ever been. Hopefully, he is going to play his best football this year."
JH: What about Zach Latimer and DeMarrio Pleasant?
JS: "Demarrio had a great summer and he is up to 225 now after playing at 215 last year. He has had the best summer since he has been here and has really matured. You can see him headed down the right road.
"Latimer is pretty steady, but he hasn't been able to put much weight on. He still weighs about 218, but he has been steady and had a good summer. He needs to weigh a little more than that, but he always works hard so we will see how he progresses. He didn't have the summer that Ingram and Demarrio had, but he had a good summer."
JH: Is Lance Mitchell at 250 pound player?
JS: "Oh yeah, he left weighing 248 pounds. He is just a guy who trains hard and pays a price every day in workouts. He is close to being a 400 bench press guy. He is just what you call a football player. He has a great feel for the game and is just nasty the way he gets there and trains himself really hard."
JH: The secondary always seems to be working hard in your program aren't they?
JS: "Brodney Pool had a great summer getting his weight up to 208. Coach Pelini said he wanted him at 205 to 208 and he left here at 208. Brodney had a great summer. All of those guys in the secondary had a great summer.
"Jowahn Poteat had a great summer, and is a guy that has worked hard. I can't say enough good things about him. He is here every day and training hard. Brandon Shelby is kind of the Gayron Allen of the secondary. A guy who shows up every day and he doesn't have great numbers size wise, but who works hard and plays with great instincts and team chemistry. I think all the guys in the secondary have done a great job.
"Antonio Perkins and Marcus Walker were outstanding this summer. You first notice how mature Walker is as he stepped out the first day he is here and runs a 4.4. He is a very impressive athlete for a little guy. I feel very good about where we are at in the secondary."
JH: Several other players that I talked to bragged on Eric Bassey this summer. Did he impress you?
JS: "Eric has always worked hard for me. I think he did a better job this summer of focusing on getting his hip flexibility better, and working on things that is going to help him become a better corner. Bassey does a great job, and I take my hat off for him for the hard work that he put in the summer. It doesn't matter to Eric what time of year it is, he always feels it is important to train hard. I really enjoy working with Eric Bassey."
JH: Everybody always wants to know the latest on Chijioke Onyenegecha?
JS: "Chijioke didn't have a real good summer. He is a guy that needs to mature a little bit better. He has the tools, but he doesn't know how to train at a high level day-in-and-day-out. It will come, but we have to watch every player and learn from them. It is going to continue to take time. He needs to develop the attitude to do it and get it done. He has tremendous ability, but he needs to go out and put it all together."
JH: Do you think he is all the way back from his hamstring injury?
JS: "I don't think there is any question that he is back physically, but we just have to get his mind mentally ready to handle things. From my standpoint, he clearly wasn't ready to handle the intensity of the summer program on a day-in-and-day-out standpoint. However, from the beginning of the summer to the end we did make a little bit of progress and we will continue to work on it."
JH: You try to develop exercises for athletes and their different positions. Isn't that what separates your programs from any others.
JS: "I think I just watch them through the season and through the spring. I try to come up with things that will benefit a defensive tackle coming out of his stance or something that will help a DB break on the ball or change direction. For DBs, their hips have to be down and defensive ends need to stay low and still have power. I do different things with hurdles or come up with different drills that might get them into those positions during a game and allow them to have good hip flexibility to play the game. I just give them different things so they don't get bored during their workouts."
Q&A with Jerry Schmidt: Part Two
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