Ole Miss strength and conditioning coach Paul Jackson breaks down the Rebels' offseason program

Ole Miss is three weeks into its summer strength and conditioning program. The Ole Miss Spirit recently caught up with head S&C coach Paul Jackson to check in on progress thus far.

On offseason progress through the first three weeks of strength and conditioning:

“It’s good. We’re finishing up our fourth week with these guys, but things are good. Our vets, every year it gets a little smoother with those guys. They know what they’re doing. They’re in great shape. I like the way they look. And we’ve got a highly-touted freshmen group. It’s good to see almost all of them here now and get to work with those guys.”

On the summer S&C approach: 

“We take an approach where we, basically, try to stay in conditioning or shape all year round. That’s the primary focus, that’s almost a given in our program. When we start in January, we focus more on the strength, more on the weight room stuff. And when you get into the summer, at least here, what we focus more on is the jump training and more of your power training. Speed and power is always our focus, (but) it takes on even more of a focus in the summer time.”

On veteran standouts so far:

“I’m happy with a lot of them. (Damore’ea) Stringfellow is a guy who’s been out for a while, but physically he looks great. Fadol Brown’s another one, even though he’s been limited with his foot. Looks to be in great shape. Breeland Speaks is on a mission, it appears. Our quarterback, Chad Kelly, works like a maniac. It’s unbelievable his work ethic and how much he’s focused and committed. Evan Engram looks great. A lot of the guys you’d hope would be out front and leading the pack, they are. That’s good stuff.”

On transitioning the freshmen class from high school to a high-intensity S&C program:

“All freshmen are freshmen. None of them are going to be able to compete with the guys who’ve been training in this manner for a while, at least in our area. Now, when they get out on the football field, some of them are hyper-talented and they’ll be able to do those things. But in our area this is new to them. Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve done it, so they’re going to be a little bit behind the vets. And they should be. I wouldn’t want those young guys to come in and be the best in the strength and conditioning program. We’ve got to teach them how we want things done, and they’ve got to work at a certain level. I would say, of the whole class, D.K. Metcalf is probably the most physically prepared to do the work in our area — in the weight room and the strength and conditioning stuff. He looks great. He’s got a very developed body. He’s a big kid. Tremendous work ethic. He’s in great shape. I would say of all of them, he’s probably the one most prepared to handle our type of work from day one when he got here. But athletically you see it in all of them. As with most freshmen, we’ve got to get this class tougher mentally. When they get sore, you can’t have them running to the training room and doing those things. Core strength — and by that I mean your torso, where you can hold positions — that’s always hard for young guys, and that’s the same for this group. But I’m extremely excited about them. But to think they’re going to come in and excel beyond who’s already here in strength and conditioning is a real far reach.”

On catering workouts to fit the needs of each player:

“Every single kid has a program. They have their own sheet, their own workout sheet. Each workout day I’ll go through it, and when we get to know the kid, you know there are certain exercises that work better for some kids than for others. Say Chad, for example. For power clean, or a clean pull, he struggles getting set up when the bar is all the way on the floor. But if we raise it up and put it on six-inch blocks, he gets into a great set position. So every week I make that note and make sure he’s pulling from blocks. And that’s not necessarily a weakness, we’re just trying to find things that are better suited for each kid within our overall team program. When you get beyond that, and there are guys  who have issues, say you have someone who has shoulder pain or they need more posture work in their upper back, you’ve got to fix those things. You just add that in extra as you see it, as you get to know these kids. Obviously the high-priority kids, the ones who are playing a lot and the ones who are going to directly affect us on the field, they may get a little more attention than everybody else. Not that they’re getting favoritism, it’s just that they have a direct impact and we have to pay more attention to them because they’re those guys. But as you get to know everybody and their deficiencies come out, we obviously work on that. We try to get a lot of that into the workout. But we’re full-time strength and conditioning for football only, so we’re here all day long. And just as how the kids are required to watch certain film, if they want to be special, they come in and watch extra on their own. Same thing with strength and conditioning. If we’ve got a guy who has a deficiency, we’ll let him know it and say, ‘Hey, we can help you with that. Come in Wednesday at 10. Come on in.’ We’ll attack it that way.”

On players whose workout numbers jump off the page:

“I think Myles Hartsfield is a guy who’s got some unique athletic ability. Kendarius Webster, in our spring testing, I’d say maybe on the team had the best overall performance from strength, speed, power, everything. He’s incredible right now. He should be an impact player for us on defense at that corner position. I imagine he would be. You’re talking about an 11-2 broad jump, a 39 1/2 vertical, a 4.4 40, squatting 450 pounds, power cleaning over 300 pounds. Ken did a great job this offseason, and he continues to do a good job in the summer. He’s somebody who physically took a major step this offseason.”

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