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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies hope Hocke’s help can take A&M to a new level

Photo by By Alex Miller

Strength coach Mark Hocke was fired up for practice during warm ups.

He seems to run out for warm-ups from nowhere.
His energy, however, seems to be felt and heard from just about anywhere on the Coolidge Practice Fields.
He’s said to be changing the culture of the Texas A&M football team.
He screamed ‘I’m on a new level!’ a line from A$AP Ferg’s hit song after pretending to make a field goal during stretches.
And that’s what strength coach Mark Hocke is trying to do – take the Aggies to a new level.
Hocke has only been in Aggieland since January, but the difference he sees in not only the maroon and white’s improvements in the Davis Center lifting weights, but also the players’ mentalities makes him believe in the Aggies.
“I’ve seen real growth from January through the summer,” Hocke said after Tuesday’s practice. ”What that looks like is how they communicate with one another, the standards that they’re still continuing to set on higher levels. I continue to see growth and I continue to see extra hunger.”
In those eight months, Hocke has added four position-specific strength coaches who conduct football-related auxiliary lifts. During the summer, players did their conditioning at 3 p.m., easily the hottest part of the day.
“When you’re out there, Coach Hocke is really trying to push you mentally because there’s always that human nature in the back of your head that’s telling you to quit and lay down,” junior wide receiver Christian Kirk said on Saturday.
Another main point of Hocke’s is the unity of players and sticking together.
 “It’s the mindset of we need each other, nobody can be left behind,” Kirk added. “Whether a guy is struggling during conditioning or whatnot or in a position drill, you can’t just push them off to the side and say he’s not getting it, we have to push him along cause the whole team goes as one.”
It is hard to miss Hocke at practice because he’s so vocal with literally everyone. Hocke’s hope is that his positive and energetic vibes radiate into players during practice.
“They say attitudes are contagious,” Hocke said. “I’m well aware of that because of my playing days, because of my days coaching and you want to surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you, that bring that extra energy, bring that extra emotion and that’s one I thing I try and do.”
Players noted that Hocke is exceptional in finding a proper balance between maintaining a high intensity during workouts and practice while also having fun with the game.
“Just bringing little pillars each and every day, motivating us even though we’re already having fun, it’s a grind, “ senior safety Armani Watts said Saturday. “Who has the opportunity to do what many people don’t have the opportunity to do, he just reminds us of that every day.”
Hocke was the big addition to Kevin Sumlin’s staff during this past offseason, in large part to fix the Aggies’ late season struggles.
Hocke himself is not dwelling or digging into the problems of the past, but remains optimistic about what A&M can achieve moving forward.
“I’m not too sure what happened in the past, what I do know is this is a new team with new leadership. They’ve set a very high standard,” Hocke said. “I believe in this team, I think they know that, Coach Sumlin, the coaching staff believes in this team. We’re excited, the players are excited because they’ve set such a high standard. Coach Sumlin said it today, how you do anything is how you do everything.”
Despite doubts in some of the Aggies’ upcoming season, Hocke is adamant in his confidence in A&M.
“Last time I checked, this team is 0-0, just like everybody else in the country and in due time, I think we’ll see we’ll benefit from the work we put in.”

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