Veltkamp Dishes Out Tough Practices

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Apr. 7, 2008 12:00 am  

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Hunkered over a laptop computer, Arkansas offensive lineman DeMarcus Love - all 6 feet, 5 inches and 305 pounds of him - intently studied the tiny screen in front of him. Love was reviewing a video breakdown of his most recent 40-yard dash attempt, a task aimed at helping improve specific movements in hopes of making him more explosive off the line of scrimmage.

Technically, the rising sophomore was enjoying an off day from the training program installed by new strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp. Still, Love's free time wasn't truly his own.

Which is why Love was spending time at Walker Pavilion watching himself run.

While time off meant Love was free from doing squats with quarry rocks or scaling the stone walls adjacent to the Razorbacks' practice fields, it didn't mean he was excused from preparation for the 2008 football season. It's a lesson Love and his teammates learned quickly as they readied themselves for their first spring practice under new coach Bobby Petrino.

Veltkamp, as an extension of Petrino, accepts nothing less than excellence. He demands team unity. And he had some pretty interesting methods of assuring those things happened in the months leading up to the start of spring practice, which began April 3 and concludes with the spring game April 26.

"Those first few days, I'm not going to lie, we weren't sure what was going on," Love said. "It was crazy. After a while, you get used to it. You learn how to work together. That's what [Veltkamp] is striving for."

Veltkamp replaced Don Decker, who served in a similar capacity for 10 years under former coach Houston Nutt. Shortly after he was introduced in December, Petrino made Veltkamp one of his first hires.

Petrino and Veltkamp worked together at Louisville for three seasons. Veltkamp, who was with the Cardinals four years total, served prior to that as Utah's director of strength and conditioning from 2001-03.

Those stops are where Veltkamp adopted the motto that now hangs in the Arkansas weight room: Iron Sharpens Iron. Essentially, that means each player is responsible for improving - sharpening - the skills of the guy next to him.

Asked if he and his six-man staff were bringing an approach different from what players were used to, Veltkamp didn't hesitate to answer: "Yes. Absolutely."

Importance of Variety

Veltkamp turned some heads early on with his Full Metal Fridays. Those were the days that he sought to push Razorback players beyond their mental and physical breaking points, all in the name of drawing the team closer.

These were not good times.



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