June 22, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN - As Auburn's football newcomers arrive on campus, they'll soon become acquainted with strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell. They will get their first lessons in the demands of playing college football.
Some will be ready to play in the opener against Washington on Aug. 31, or soon after. Some will have to wait, sitting out as redshirts. And those who sit out will get special attention from Russell and his staff. It won't be easy, but Russell says it will be worthwhile.
"I always tell them you want to be the best version of yourself when you step on that field," Russell said. "Sometimes that's not when you are 17 or 18 years old when you get here.
"That is a time, too, to really establish pride in a program that is bigger than yourself. Maybe you don't think you are really making an impact on the program, but you really are. That training is going to affect our success in years to come based on your effort to improve in that time."
For 13 years, Auburn players told horror stories about former strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall's redshirt workouts. Russell, a former Yoxall assistant, says they'll find his redshirt workouts even more demanding. Yoxall turned the heat up on weekends. Russell won't wait for the weekends.
"They did Fridays and Saturdays before, but earlier in the week they did the same lifts as guys that played," Russell said. "They are going to be going hard and heavy all week. Friday's we'll do some stuff that is going to help them develop a little more - change of direction work, speed work. Then Saturdays will be a big-time work capacity day to see who has some guts and who doesn't. That's one of my favorite parts of the job, that Stage 1 developmental deal."
Russell said players who view it as an opportunity to improve will benefit for years to come.
"It's a huge opportunity for them to develop," Russell said. "That's really 16 weeks that we can train them four or five days a week. We really choose to treat that like an offseason or a summer."
The mission, Russell said, will be more than helping players get bigger, faster and stronger.
"It'll be about attention to detail, discipline, accountability," Russell said. "We will harp on those things for 16 weeks."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: