Athletic training chief looks out for future Hogs

Posted: November 5, 2017 at 1:41 a.m.

Arkansas trainer Matt Summers walks off the field during a game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- When the Arkansas Razorbacks football team hosts prospects for official visits, recruits are given an in-depth look at what life is like as a Hog.

One stop an athlete and his family will make is to visit with Matt Summers, the director of athletic training for the athletics department.

Summers enjoys meeting the prospects and their families to explain his role in looking out for an athlete's well-being.

"They're coming on campus to get an evaluation of the program, and as a health care provider, I think it's really, really important to stress the importance of health care to the perspective students," Summers said.

Should the prospect decide to be a Razorback, there's a good chance he'll see Summers and his staff often while in Fayetteville.

"They're going away from home," Summers said. "They've usually had a mom or dad or a parent, a grandparent they went to when something was wrong. When you go off to college, it's your athletic training, it's your sports medicine staff that you really entrust with a student-athlete."

Recruits learn how to take care of their bodies before and after workouts and practice, while also being educated on treatment and rehab plans.

"You give them an inside look and build that trust that when your student-athlete comes to campus they're going to be taken care of," Summers said. "That's going to be priority number one."

Prior to becoming the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville head athletic trainer for football in 2009, Summers spent time with Kentucky, the San Diego Chargers and Louisville. He was promoted to director of athletic training for the athletic department in 2013.

The relationship Summers develops with the football Hogs helps him get a good idea on the recovery time for each athlete.

"I think the relationship you have, your initial evaluation, and the evaluation the next day and some of the things we expose our athletes to throughout the rehab process gives us a great indication on what our time frame is with an injury," he said. "How long is this going to be? Is this something we can get them through a practice, but have to monitor the reps or limit their reps. It's based on experience, there's no doubt about it."

Summers stresses conditioning even when an athlete is sidelined by injury.

"It's important if they're out for a week that they don't get de-conditioned," Summers said. "It's really, really easy to lose it. These guys work year round gaining strength, gaining their conditioning. An injury can really derail that pretty quickly."

The Hogs look to keep players fresh by utilizing the lap pool during the season.

"We also use the lap pool twice a week during the season just for functional recovery, just flushing the muscles out," Summers said. "Getting guys in and moving them around a littler bit on their off days to help flush some of that soreness they may have."

The amount of tables in the treatment area has doubled since the move to the Fred Smith Football Center in 2013. There are four doctor offices located in the training area.

"A doctor can do a complete evaluation, get an X-ray done, an EKG or ultrasound," Summers said.

Email Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com.

Sports on 11/05/2017