Friday, July 31, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Herbert chiseling Hogs in shape

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Inevitably for some Arkansas Razorbacks, the long, hot summer is extremely worth the weights.

Either shedding much weight or gaining much weight weighs into several of strength coach Ben Herbert’s summer programs for certain Hogs.

Some achieved spectacular results, Herbert reported last week leading into Thursday’s start of preseason practice.

On the upside, Herbert cited among others the weight/strength gains of sophomore Frank Ragnow, promoted last winter from backup center to starting right offensive guard, third-year sophomore defensive end Tevin Beanum of Forrest City and fourth-year junior tight end Jeremy Sprinkle of White Hall.

Ragnow arrived from Chanhassen, Minn. last year as a rangy 6-5, more resembling a tight end or basketball forward than an interior offensive linemen.

He proved looks are deceiving. Ragnow not only lettered, but split time with and a game or two even had the majority of time over starter Mitch Smothers, returned this year as a Rimington Trophy watch list senior center while Ragnow moved to right guard.

Herbert says Ragnow not only looks the part, but fills the part now.

“Frank Ragnow has done a tremendous job to be where he is physically and come out and be a stud for us at right guard,” Herbert said. “He is in that 310 to 314 range. Last year he was 280. He played at a high level last year as a freshman and he is ready to take it to a whole other level. He has the additional tools to do so, which is fun to see.”

Beanum, Sprinkle and 5-8 walk-on Lane Saling, competing with incumbent Adam McFain and touted redshirt freshman Cole Hedlund for the place-kicking job, also posted a summer worth the weight to Herbert.

“Tevin Beanum, a guy that has a chance to start for us at defensive end, has put 35 pounds of mass on his frame over time,” Herbert said. “Lane Saling came in the door at 141 pounds. Right now he is in that 175 range. Jeremy Sprinkle (as a redshirting true freshman in 2012) once was 212 pounds. Now he is 255 pounds and will be a key player for us this year.”

Continuing to perform up from the downside is senior starting left offensive guard Sebastian Tretola. A 6-5 second-year junior college transfer now an Outland Trophy candidate, Tretola last year became a national novelty as the 340-pound guard throwing a touchdown pass off a trick play last year against Alabama-Birmingham.

He’s lighter than 340 now and more than 40 pounds lighter than upon his Arkansas arrival last summer from Iowa Western Community College after redshirting a year then lettering one year at the University of Nevada.

“Sebastian Tretola a year ago showed up 370 pounds,” Herbert said. “Now he is anywhere between 323 and 329 depending when we weigh him in and how much fluid he has in his system.”
Tretola certainly moves more fluidly now, Herbert said.

“In Sebastian’s case, he was carrying an extra 40 pounds of fat mass,” Herbert said. “That’s going to hinder anybody’s ability to move and sustain. You take that excess fat off a guy, he has been flying around this summer. He can go all day.”

Herbert was asked who stood out in some of the agility tests the Razorbacks took recently.

Ridiculous answers ensued. Ridiculous meaning wonderful rather than ridiculous.

“Right off the top, Jonathan Williams is ridiculous,” Herbert said of absurdly proficient quickness and agility. “Keon Hatcher, (the senior leading wide receiver) we did what’s called an R.P. agility drill with five different accelerations and decelerations and lateral movement, too, and those guys were spitting out great times. Both quarterbacks, Brandon Allen and Austin Allen, were outstanding. (Starting linebackers) Khalia Hackett, Brooks Ellis … those guys had some ridiculous times.”

Breaking a since 2013 0-13 SEC skein with ridiculous ease, routing LSU, 17-0, and Ole Miss, 30-0, last November in Fayetteville, Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks concluded 2014 winning three of their last four, routing Texas, 31-7, in the Advocare Texas Bowl.

That closing surge powered them through the winter and summer weight room and spring ball in between, Herbert said.

“Tremendous momentum,” Herbert said. “It’s like ‘Wow! This is what we are capable of when we execute at a high level!’ They came back chomping at the bit in the offseason ready to do that.”