The offseason strengthening of the Eagles' other 1993 first-round pick appears to be right on schedule.
There now is mass and definition from shoulder to shoulder, where last year there was just a broad chest.
According to Jim Williams, the Eagles' strength and conditioning coach, Renfro is now regularly bench-pressing an average of 50 pounds more than he could as a rookie out of Colorado.
"That's a pretty big gain in a year," Williams said.
The added bulk on Renfro is the result of his decision to comply with the club's strongly stated desire that he remain in Philadelphia and participate in the team's offseason workout program set up by Williams and the club's training staff.
Renfro originally had planned to return to Colorado and work out on his own while attending classes. But the Eagles coaches and John Wooten, personnel director, were fearful that if Renfro went unsupervised in a weight-training program designed by Williams, the possibility existed for him to waste the offseason. Wooten also credits Renfro's agent, Jim Sims, with supporting the club's wishes.
"When you go back home to work out, you're not around guys you're competing with," Williams said, "so you lose sight of where you are in
comparison to other NFL players. Going back home, you'll always be the biggest guy in the gym, so you don't push yourself. So that's always a concern."
Renfro, according to Williams, has dispelled the notion that he brought questionable work habits with him from Colorado when the Eagles selected him following his junior year.
Asked to report March 1 for the start of the club's weight training/ aerobics program, Renfro came to town on Feb. 18 to get a jump on the program. Several offensive linemen, who were not impressed with Renfro last year, commented during the weekend on his added strength, confidence and determination. Renfro, surprisingly, declined to be interviewed.
"Leonard's just done an outstanding job, and I couldn't be more pleased with the progress we've seen," Wooten said. "Jimmy (Williams) has done a tremendous job with him. Leonard's a different person. His attitude's a lot better, he's carved out a spot, it seems, among the veterans, and because of the work and effort he's put in, everything about him now is positive.
"He's still got a long way to go. He's nowhere near the fence yet, but he's definitely on the road to getting it done, and there's no doubt in my mind people are going to be hearing a lot more from Leonard Renfro this year."
Williams said that Renfro seemed to have a lot less difficulty making separation at the line of scrimmage in minicamp because of his much-improved arm strength. Renfro, at 297 pounds, has added approximately seven or eight pounds of muscle, and the Eagles are eager to see the explosively quick tackle when the pads go on at West Chester in July.
"He'll be able to get off people a lot better," Williams said. "He already has the explosiveness to get into them, he just couldn't separate
himself, but I think that will be easier for him now. He was talking this weekend about how he felt better being able to do more things with his arms and push off people."
Said Wooten: "When a player knows he's strong, or stronger, it creates a different level of confidence and enthusiasm, and that's what we've already begun to see in Leonard."
Renfro showed flashes of his potential in some short-yardage and goal-line situations last year, turning his shoulders and knifing into the backfield. But it was his lack of strength as an early-entry underclassman that rendered him ineffective whenever engaged by guards and centers.
"I think, bottom line, Leonard realizes now that it's a business and his livelihood," Williams said, "and it's a case of him saying to himself, 'I'm in it now and I want to stay in it.' We've spent a lot of time this offseason, and I know he wants to play better, be better, and he just took it upon
himself to sink himself into the program.
"He has really strong legs, but he needed to get his arm strength comparable with his leg strength, and he had to put the time in to train his upper body, and he did it. It's starting to pay off for him, and as he continues, it can only pay off for the Eagles."