Regardless of talent or stars or impressive stats, that first year of college football always presents numerous challenges and adjustments for incoming freshmen. After all, there is no way to adjust to the speed of the college game or the intensity of practices until those guys go through the actual experience.
The same can be said for rookies entering their first round of summer workouts. For incoming members of Mississippi State's Class of 2011, they did receive a glimpse of what the month of June will bring for those enrolling for first summer term.
Yes, receiving their MSU workout planning book does help to give them a head start. But when asked about their initial thoughts of that workout book, the response is a familiar one.
"My first thought was 'man, there is a lot of stuff in this book'," said MSU 2011 signee Derrick Milton, a running back from Pineville, La. "It includes everything from eating right to working out and to how many sets to do in workouts and to how many workouts to do. It was crazy when I first saw that book. I never did that many workouts in my life for that many different parts of my body."
And others agreed with Milton.
"The thing is you get this evelope and you have no idea what is in there," said MSU 2011 signee and offensive lineman Daniel Knox of West Lauderdale (Miss.) High School. "Then you open it and the thing is as thick as a text book for school. It has every little detail on how much to do in workouts and how long to do those workouts. It is a tough workout, too, if you follow every detail and do it at the right speed."
MSU fans have grown accustomed to results when concerning strength coach Matt Balis, the proof is in the pudding.
"I wasn't able to do much of it because of it lately because of the shoulder surgery I had," said recent MSU signee and Heidelberg (Miss.) native Zach Jackson. "But I was able to do it for about a month before my surgery. It's a lot harder than you could ever imagine and it is very intense.
"But what grabbed my attention were the results and how I got bigger, faster and stronger. I am used to working out pretty hard but other people were telling me the big differences they could tell in my body."
And Knox and Milton agreed on the results.
"I saw a big difference once I got used to the workouts," said Milton. "I gained some good weight muscle and put on a few pounds right away. I could tell a big difference in my arms and my shoulders pretty quick. I did it when I was at Hargrave and you can tell the difference once you go over all the workouts. Of course, it is such a big book that I doubt any of us have gone through the whole book yet (laughing)."
"I put on some good pounds with the book," said Knox. "My goal is to be 270 pounds before getting there next week and the coaches wanted me to be at 270 pounds. I am just a pound shy of that and I figure I will get that extra pound by next week."
While high school players are obviously used to working out with their football mates, one challenge in their workout book is changing their eating habits.
"Yeah, that is a tough part," said Knox. "But it is good that eating right and how to eat right is in that book. I am eating more now and working out more and putting on the weight is likely due to eating better. I am eating more food now but I am eating the right foods. It isn't any of the greasy stuff or candy. You have to stick with eating right and you can't take any days off. You still get to get good food, though, that is the right food and you get to eat a lot of it."
Throughout their early glimpses of college workouts, naturally these players believe it is about preparing you for what is in store next month.
"It does prepare you a lot and let's you know a bit of what to expect," said Milton. "It lets you know how to work out properly and what type of work ethic you must have."
But of course, the 2011 signees expect these workouts to be on a total different level next month when they report to Mississippi State.
"I think it does help prepare you some," said Jackson. "The flexability drills really helped me at defensive back with all the hip movements and stuff. But once we get up there next month, I expect it to be even harder. I think this book is just a warmup for us."
Which is totally accurate on Jackson's comment and a future in workouts that all of the current Bulldogs can validate under the watchful eye of Balis and his staff. But whether a guy is an incoming freshmen or fifth-year senior, the workouts still come down to desire and that 'want-to' personality.
"Once you figure out how to do all the workouts and techniques in the book, you start to see the big picture," said Knox. "The running part at first is tough but then your body gets used to it. Again, when you look at the big whole picture of what is about to take place, it is not hard to motivate yourself to do these workouts. After all, we've been blessed to play this game a little longer so you must take advantage of that and use every opportunity to the fullest."