Arkansas Football is Being Transformed By Ben Herbert

By Matt Virnig
Arkansas Football, Ben Herbert
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

He calls himself the transformer. His name has been popularized due to his philosophy of “transformance.” His innovative techniques are known to successfully transform players’ performance on the field by changing their physiques, attitude, work ethic and nutrition. He has helped develop 44 NFL Draft picks and seven first-round picks. He is considered one of the best in the business.

However, despite his prestigious name, very few in college football know much about him.

If there has been anyone who has made a major impact in the short Bret Bielema-tenure for the Arkansas Razorbacks‘ football program, it is the  early emergence of Razorbacks strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.

Herbert joined the Arkansas football program this last December after serving the last 11 seasons at his alma mater, Wisconsin, in their strength and conditioning program, including the last four holding the head strength and conditioning position. In Herbert’s four seasons, the Badgers outscored opponents 435-309.

Ben Herbert has been praised early in his first year in Fayetteville after the physical transformation of the size and strength of Razorbacks players in the seven months since their offseason conditioning program began.

Senior fullback Kiero Small, as well as junior projected right guard Brey Cook, have excited Hog fans with their before and after pictures on social media, showing a significant transformation in their pectoral and back muscles and overall physique since Herbert’s arrival in December. Sophomore projected right tackle Grady Ollison, who played fullback after the absence of Small late last season, has gained more than 30 pounds to top out at an even 300 pounds. The Razorbacks will now have a 300-pound-plus group on the offensive line.

It’s fascinating to think about how much the Bielema hire has meant in terms of getting that program in position to compete in the SEC West for years to come. From his winning efforts on the recruiting trail to bringing an A-list staff of assistants to accompany him to Fayetteville, he’s been instrumental to the program’s potential future. And probably the biggest of those assistant hires was none other than plucking Herbert away from his alma mater and Wisconsin coaching legend Barry Alvarez.

Herbert is a guy who developed winning talent at a high level in Madison. Bringing in undersized, undeveloped, under-recruited walk-ons and making them stars on the gridiron. That was his biggest accolade in his time at Wisconsin and his goal as Bielema intends to make walk-ons a prominent part of his program in Fayetteville for years to come.

Herbert has done a remarkable job of bringing confidence and a swagger into a program full of youngsters that got their ego ripped after that disastrous 4-8 record a season ago. Also, he has changed the culture in the weight room by his philosophy of transformance. A mindset that is founded on before you can win on the field, you must win by the way you develop and train your body to reach its full potential.

He has that cockiness and arrogance about him that makes players want to cling to his program. I’m the transformer, I can make you bigger, faster, stronger and I can make you reach your fullest potential so that you can reach your best performance on Saturdays or even Sundays. Ever heard of J.J. Watt, Montee Ball and Gabe Carimi?

Herbert understood the challenge ahead of him by taking this position with Arkansas, of trying to mold an undersized team that lost most of its games in the trenches last season.

When Bielema took the Arkansas job, he stated that the Razorbacks would win by playing the “Arkansas Way.”  This is by winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, punishing opponents by running the football and playing disciplined, sound defense.

Arkansas and Bielema understands that to beat the Alabamas, LSUs, Floridas and South Carolinas, they’ll  have to win one-on-one battles at first impact on the line of scrimmage, and the Razorbacks look to win in the trenches this upcoming year by the offseason work of Herbert on the offensive and defensive lines.

It won’t be easy for Arkansas to be prominent again and win early in the SEC, but there is no doubt Herbert is transforming Hog players to reach their fullest potential on and off the field.


Matt Virnig is a SEC Writer for Follow him on Twitter @MatthewVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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