Ben Herbert, Ex-Wolverine

Tag: Ben Herbert

29Jan 2024
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Ben Herbert, Ex-Wolverine

Ben Herbert (image via Detroit Free Press)

Strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert informed the team after this morning’s lift that he would be leaving Michigan to go work for the Los Angeles Chargers under Jim Harbaugh.

Herbert was hired prior to the 2019 season at Michigan after spending time at Wisconsin and then Arkansas under Bret Bielema. He rejuvenated Michigan’s S&C program and put numerous guys on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List,” including Kwity Paye, Kenneth Grant, Mazi Smith, and Kris “The Mutant” Jenkins, Jr.

For better or worse – and there’s no judgment here – this feels like Herbert is hitching his wagon to Jim Harbaugh’s Super Bowl quest. Herbert seems like a college guy to me, because he has a certain wow factor with young men that may not carry over to guys who are professional millionaires and have their own trainers. Herbert is very intimidating to 19-year-old kids, but to a 32-year-old guy who has made $120 million in his career? I’m not so sure.

Not only am I a little surprised because of those reasons (seems like a college guy, NFL strength coaches aren’t as revered, etc.), but his nephew Zach Ludwig also signed with Michigan in the 2024 recruiting class. Ludwig was not exactly a prized recruit and it’s unclear whether he was coming in as a linebacker or maybe a fullback or maybe a long snapper, but it did seem pretty clear that he was not someone Michigan would target if Ben Herbert weren’t around. So this would not exactly change the program, but I wonder about Ludwig’s status going forward.

On a personal note, I have sat through some S&C presentations at coaching clinics over the years, both from college and NFL strength coaches. I have consistently been more impressed by the college S&C guys more so than the NFL guys. Maybe it’s all optics, but the college guys seem to be much more organized and on point. I think that’s likely because they work in an educational setting where they have giant facilities, multiple assistants, and 140 kids depending on them daily for guidance and life training, not to mention physical training. But it makes sense if you think about the attitudes needed for success at the two different levels:

  • College: “You have 139 of your brothers depending on you. You eat together, you live together, you bleed together. Nobody is coming to save this team except the guys in this room.”
  • NFL: “Look, this is a 53-man roster. Do your job or get the f*** out and the GM find someone else. There’s a young All-American who just got cut, and there’s a 32-year-old veteran who’s willing to sign for the minimum to keep his career alive, and either one of them can take your job at any point. So do what you need to do, or else you won’t be around. Doesn’t matter to me.”

Associate Director of Strength and Conditioning Justin Tress will reportedly be taking over, at least for the time being. Tress is a Pennsylvania native and played college football at Kent State. He has been at Michigan since 2018 and is being paid $162,500 for the 2023-2024 school year, so to be an assistant strength coach and make that much money, he must do a pretty good job.

17Mar 2020
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Morning Roundup: March 17, 2020

Tom Brady

Tom Brady’s done in New England.

This is a couple months old, but I just got around to reading this look back to Tom Brady’s bowl game victory over Alabama (LINK).

Here’s a piece on the best S&C coaches in the country, which includes a mention of Ben Herbert (LINK).

Hit the jump for more.

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30Dec 2017
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Ben Herbert will be Michigan’s new S&C coach

Ben Herbert (right, with Bret Bielema)

Michigan is hiring Ben Herbert to succeed Kevin Tolbert as the strength and conditioning coordinator. Herbert was previously at Wisconsin and Arkansas, spending a lot of time with Bret Bielema, who was fired from at the end of the regular season.

I’m not knowledgeable enough in the area of strength coaches to know who was available or interested, but I was hoping Michigan would hire someone from a physical program, and Wisconsin and Arkansas both count. Here’s a link to Herbert’s bio on the Arkansas website (LINK).

I think Michigan has been caught in a No Man’s Land lately when it comes to the offensive line, which is the biggest spot that needs to be shored up from an S&C standpoint. They don’t have an identity. Do they want to be thin and athletic to run inside/outside zone? Do they want to be huge to run power and inside zone? Or do they want to be somewhere in between so they can run a variety of things?

Here’s Arkansas’ starting line in 2017:

  • LT: 6’6″, 298
  • LG: 6’4″, 311
  • C: 6’1″, 309
  • RG: 6’4″, 333
  • RT: 6’6″, 335

Michigan’s starting line in 2017:

  • LT: 6’5″, 305
  • LG: 6’5″, 310
  • C: 6’6″, 302
  • RG: 6’3″, 315
  • RT: 6’5″, 325

That’s an average of 317.2 lbs. for Arkansas, and it’s 311 lbs. for Michigan. That’s only about a 6 lb. difference, but why was Arkansas’ 6’1″ center heavier than Michigan’s 6’6″ center? Why isn’t a guy with Ben Bredeson’s frame playing guard around 320 lbs.?

For the record, I’m okay with having beefy inside guys paired with more athletic tackles, but Michigan hasn’t had that over the past few years. They’ve had a bunch of guard types playing tackle, and they’re neither athletic enough on the edge to hold up against pass rushers nor strong enough to get a push up the middle on combo blocks. If you’re going to roll a bunch of guards out there as your entire offensive line, then you might as well have them bulky enough to get a push. Because when you establish the running game, it slows down the pass rush enough that it can get the defense a half step out of position, thus allowing your slightly less athletic offensive linemen to do what they need to do.

This should be a solid hire for Michigan going forward.