This week I am introducing a new format to the blog that I hope to bring back monthly. I am extremely fortunate to have made several connections with former offensive lineman, offensive line trainers and offensive line coaches throughout my playing and coaching career. I look up to these men and lean on them heavily in my coaching profession. In an attempt for me to gather even more information from the men that are at the top of there given profession, I decided to reach out to them and ask them if they would fill out a questionnaire. It is geared towards questions I had about offensive line and coaching in general. In this new “interview” format, I will introduce the guest that was generous with their time and knowledge to answer these questions for us. Then, I will get out of the way and let their answers do the talking by posting their answers with my questions. I hope you guys enjoy and get as much out of this as I have!!
JR Conrad – I first heard about JR from my dad several years ago. Dad knew JR and always talked very highly of him. He said that JR was an extremely tough guy and a great offensive lineman. JR started 46 games on the offensive line at the University of Oklahoma. He would then go on to get drafted by the New England Patriots.
It wasn’t until 3 years ago however, that I finally met JR. I was lucky enough to be asked by Loren Montgomery, the head football coach at Bixby High School, to help work his Eastern Oklahoma O-Line & D-Line camp. This camp has been around for many years and luckily for me, JR had become a yearly staple at this camp. For the last 3 years at this camp I’ve gotten the chance to sit back and watch JR coach high school offensive lineman and it was an amazing learning experience for me. It was unreal to me how he could get such a large buy in from a bunch of kids that he had just met. Also The amount of effort they were willing to give at his station was amazing. An extremely impressive thing to me is how willing he is to adapt to new and better technique. Every year I’m there I see him using a new toy from the Lecharles Bentley toolbox. If he sees a better way to do something he is willing and eager to adopt it into his players training. This is something that you don’t see very often from as decorated of an offensive lineman as JR was. He was after all, the first true freshmen to ever start at Center for the Sooners.
Watching him work with the kids and coach Offensive Line was extremely impressive! But the thing that truly blew me away was listening to him speak to the kids at the camp. If you have not had the chance to hear this man speak, you are missing out! He speaks of a brotherhood, of a love for the game and the position, and he speaks of his faith. Listening to JR for 10 minutes will have you ready to go in to battle, and call up your old teammates from high school all at the same time. You can tell that he is genuinely speaking from the heart and it’s what impresses me most about JR.
JR now works with Power Lift and trains some of the top offensive lineman in the Oklahoma City area at his Trench Mafia O-Line Academy. You can follow him on twitter @JRConrad64. Below are his responses to our “interview”.
Q1. What’s something you believe about the offensive line (or football) that the majority of your peers disagree with?
A1. 2 things O-Lineman need more than anything is toughness and staying power. I always hear how centers must be this quick, guards need to weight this much, and tackles need to be this tall; truth is all bodies are different torso length, arm length, barrel chest guy? Size is awesome strength is a necessity that comes on a platform in a rack as you age in a program. But tough guys who just keep working usually win jobs.
Q2. What was the most productive run play that you ran this year? Why do think you ran it so well this year?
A2. I cannot answer this one running Trench Mafia is a bit different than game planning for a certain scheme or front. But you know me and it would be counter of all kinds, huge fan of a double to backside with a puller.
Q3. If you could go back and give advice to yourself at 25 about coaching, what would it be?
A3. Never forget it’s a Coaches job to show young man what he can become, we all know what we are but don’t always see what we can become. Football will do more for the players than they will do for the game. Last learn always learn so you can teach it better.
Q4. What is the most important thing you look for when hiring an offensive line coach?
A4. I have done this twice first time I hired a former player of mine that I trusted and he did a great job he knew how I did things and said things and he did a great job. Next time hired a guy who never played a down of football but he had a health issue related to that and he loved ball, he was a manager a film guy a volunteer coach and he wanted to learn. So I found myself relearning and teaching and then I would hear him present different and he did a great job. Totally different worlds and both worked great. Find a grinder for O-Line it’s a lot high numbers, a lot of props needed and got to keep guys moving.
Q5. When watching another offensive line play, what would they do that would make you think highly of that offensive line coach?
A5. For me it would start on film study I want to see that guys can do the 3 basic things alignment, assignment, execution so if the scheme makes sense to what and where guys are going that means they are taking film, or walk through to the field. As an O-Lineman I want to see consistent stances, stagger, splits, body language after plays in the huddle, techniques from Indy periods carrying over? Of course EFFORT / FINISH.
Q6. If you could meet any coach (living or dead) and talk to them for 1 hour who would it be and why?
A6. I would have to say spend that hour with LeCharles Bentley. I have spent some time with him and I just feel like he is really on the forefront in unifying the island of misfit toys.
Q7. What’s the worst advice you hear the most that is given to Offensive lineman or coaches?
A7. Just get out there and cut them off then punch how hard is that? I hear this all the time frustrates me to no end specific skill for a specific task. Must be very clear and detailed!
Q8. What has become more important to you in the last few years and what has become less important in coaching offensive line?
A8. Dialing in Skills Acquisition vs doing tons of ladders and foot work that doesn’t apply to our foot position at any time on the field.
Q9. What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made in your coaching career?
A9. LeCharles newsletter, access to articles, videos, 3D simulations, nutrition, equipment.
Q10. Who comes to mind when you hear the term successful coach?
A10. Allan Trimble Jenks Head Coach success at the highest level, kept balance between work and family, and his Coaches and Players rave about him as a Coach but mostly about the man. Humble and kind I truly admire him.
Q11. Coaching is teaching if you had to teach at a high school what would you teach?
A11. Classroom setting OK History being Native American great way to share some Indian culture with everyone. But probably would enjoy the weight room full time to share in the joy of hard work equals success.
Q12. Who was your biggest mentor while you grew as a coach?
A12. Charlie North been a great resource for all things from fund raising to day to day schedule and X’s & O’s
Q13. If you only allowed to go into a game with 3 run plays what would they be?
A13. Inside Zone / Power / Counter
Q14. What book have or would you recommend most to Coaches?
A14. Energy Bus – Jon Gordon
Q15. What is your favorite football movie?
A15. Remember the Titans
Q16. What’s the best piece of advice that you ever gotten?
A16. If you are going to show your backside on the sidelines, you might as well wear see through pants. Act right on the sidelines!
Q17. If you were only allowed to use 2 pass blocking drills the entire season, what would they be?
A17. Kick Plate slow / Tom Tom for speed
Q18. If your child told you they were going into the coaching profession, for any sport at any level, what advice would you give them.
A18. Grow thick skin, coach your personality, and then I would tell them how proud of them I am Coaches/Teachers impact lives.
Q19. What type of music do you listen to when breaking down film?
A19. Trench Mafia Sessions are known to rock a mix if the dudes are working they can control music, if not no tunes!