June 27, 2007

Off-Season Q&A: Bennie Wylie (Part Two)

Texas Tech strength and conditioning coach for football Bennie Wylie is already entering into his fifth off-season at Texas Tech. We recently picked Wylie's brain on several topics having to do with the off-season, the mentality of the program, the talent level and leadership. Find out what all he had to say in part two of this exclusive Q&A.

This team is much younger across the board than in year's previous. Are some of the younger guys having to step up and be leaders?

Wylie: There is no choice. Even a young guy like Ra'jon Henley, a guy like Brandon Williams that played as true freshman - they don't have a choice. They have to step up and they have to lead their group because they're kind of the old guys. You have guys like Jake Ratliff and Tyler Yenzer on the D-Line, but those young guys also played so they have that certain role and that certain leadership. Of course you have Graham (Harrell), and he doesn't have a choice. I tell him all the time that he doesn't have a choice. He has to lead. There's no, 'Well I don't feel like it today.' He has to lead the team - the team, not just the offense or the defense or the special teams, but the team. And he has taken that much better this year, and I think just with time he has done better. We've got a core group of guys that we count on, about 10 guys, and they know if they have an issue they can come to us. Leach talks to those guys, and then we try and let those guys kind of disperse that information amongst the team. So far, that seems to work a lot better just having a core group of guys we can count on. Even guys like Ty Linder - he's in that group of guys. Ty's a walk-on, but he's a huge part of our team. Just different guys, and there are about 10 guys on there, so it's good.

Can you tell right away if a player is going to be special or not by how hard they work with you?

Wylie: You can tell, I think, from the first minute you meet a guy if he has it. Even though he's a little quirky, for example, if we're talking about Ed Britton. Ed was kind of a weird dude, but inside you could see Ed and that he was going to develop. Even a guy like Todd Walker - skinny, skinny, skinny, but really fast. So you think… is he going to be able to put on weight? Is he going to be durable? Is he going to hold up? And with those guys usually you can see that work ethic. You can also see when a guy is not going to make it, and it doesn't matter how much talent that person has. Just like we were talking about earlier, one of those guys with talent but no work ethic and no drive… maybe spurts of work ethic but not really long term. So you can tell, and for me, that's my job to read a guy and see what he has and what he doesn't. I'm not going to give up on a guy if I think he doesn't, but he's going to eventually give up on himself.

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