Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Razorbacks coach sticks to his promise
Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers pressures Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova during a game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J.
FAYETTEVILLE - Once harpooned by his signature, a college athlete can face a whale of a time holding those accountable on promises proffered.
The jaded can include the two sport athlete recruited for football but assured he can also play baseball or run track until discovering the second sport promise vanished in the thin air of spring football.
Or maybe it’s the athlete who could have turned pro coming off his junior year returning to college on promises of something different that ultimately prove more of the same.
It’s refreshing to see a vow fulfilled in college athletics. Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema has practiced what he’s preached, promising All-SEC second-team defensive end Trey Flowers after his junior season that he would do all he could to enhance Flowers’ 2015 draft stock should Flowers return for the 2014 season.
Flowers has only watched and not practiced during the spring scrimmages. That follows the plan Bielema outlined after Flowers received NFL draft feedback before announcing Jan. 6 that he would return to Arkansas for the 2014 season while continuing to complete his degree in economics.
“He is a man of his word,” Flowers said last Thursday. “Everything he said he was going to do, he is doing.” Flowers has watched the Saturday spring scrimmages after doing a workout tailored just for him by strength coach Ben Herbert.
“Just keeping a development,” Bielema said of Flowers’ spring emphasis. “The more muscle he can add to his frame, the better off he’s going to be.” Flowers explained the routine.
“I go to the weight room and work on some drills that they do at the combines and the scouts do,” Flowers said. “With the team I am doing everything the team does, but those extra things are different. It’s worked out pretty good.” Flowers said he trusted Arkansas’ second-year head coach not only after playing for him even as the Hogs struggled 3-9 last year, but because of Bielema’s previous seven-year head coaching record at Wisconsin and how he prepared Badgers players for the NFL.
“He has sent a lot of guys to the league,” Flowers said. “J.J. Watt went in the first round and a lot of other pretty high prospects.”Bielema obviously is comfortable with the plan.
“It’s something I’ve down in the past with guys that have been in those type of situations,” Bielema said. “In the fall, we’ll scrimmage him, but here in the spring I’ve just decided to keep him out of all live situations. It’s worked well in the past, and I expect it will here, too.” Defensive coordinator Robb Smith and defensive line coach Rory Segrest were not on staff when Bielema and Flowers sealed their deal.
They coach up Flowers’ fundamentals in noncontact drills and otherwise capitalize on coaching the underclassmen defensive ends behind Flowers.
“I certainly respect what we are doing here,” Smith said. “We feel we know what we have in Trey.
We want to be smart with him to get him to the starting line and we will keep pushing forward with the other guys.”
Sports, Pages 14 on 04/16/2014