After Michael Oher declared for the NFL draft last January, he went to Nashville to train for the combine.
A few days later, Oher changed his mind about skipping his senior season at Ole Miss and opted out of the draft.
There were several reasons for the change of heart, but one was to get stronger before subjecting himself to the NFL.
"I've always had good lower body strength, but I knew I needed to work on my upper body strength before going to the NFL. That's a physical league and I needed to be more physical all the time to succeed on that level," said Oher. "I think I have improved dramatically in upper body strength and it will show on the field with me being more physical. I feel that I am getting stronger every day and I think about how much more physical I am going to be in fall camp and during the season. It's going to help me out a lot being stronger."
While Oher is reluctant to give bench press numbers now, he did give one tidbit of his improvement in the strength department.
"The max I had last spring, I benched that weight six reps this week," he smiled. "My bench has gone up a lot."
Oher says he's waiting until his bench press is "real good" before he reveals any numbers, but he hinted it's getting close to that level.
"I've still got work to do, but I'm getting there," he explained.
Coach Houston Nutt told everyone who would listen that the Rebels needed to be in better shape after evaluating their performance in spring.
This summer, Strength & Conditioning Coach Don Decker has been working more conditioning with the team than anything and Oher has benefitted from that as well.
"Last week, we had to run 30 sprints of different lengths with very little rest in between. They were 100s, 80s, 60s and 40s. A month ago I was wondering if I was going to be able to make that, but I made it and I was real proud of myself because that was a real serious conditioning day," he said. "Everyone is getting in shape and working hard. We are going to keep pushing ourselves."
Michael said in spring training there was not a huge difference in what the offensive linemen did under former Coach Art Kehoe and what they are doing now under OL Coach Mike Markuson.
"I was really comfortable with what Coach Markuson taught us in spring training. It was a lot of the same stuff we've been doing," Oher declared. "We just have to come together as a unit. Things have not changed that much.
"We are going to run zone, power, some of everything. We have a lot stuff installed and we have to get it down pat in August."
Oher said he's been impressed with the class of newcomers, so far.
"They all have good bodies to work with and all seem to know how to work," he stated.
Michael said he can see a difference in the team from a year ago this time.
"We are more relaxed and comfortable now," he closed. "It's a different atmosphere. One of the reasons I came back for my last year was because I thought we could win games. With the atmosphere we have now, we have a chance to do just that."
Michael Oher update -
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