Talavou Trimming Down, Stepping Up

In the pre-season, Leo Talavou, who's listed in the media guide at 6-4 373, was named the heaviest guard in the country by College Football News. Undoubtedly, that distinction earned a ribbing or two from his teammates, but the redshirt freshman is now getting the last laugh. All through out fall camp, he was losing pounds, yet gaining recognition. His relentless push to start at guard may just come to fruition this weekend.

With a season ending injury to Zach Krula, and sickness overcoming Mike Pollak, Talavou is the likely starter at right guard right now. "I feel great!" he exclaimed. "Just getting an opportunity to start is exciting. I'm ready for this, and I just need to step up to the plate and take advantage of everything."

His determination to succeed is quite evident in his weight loss, as he's tipping the scales these days at 355. "My weight has been a struggle," Talavou admitted, "but I'm getting it down and I feel good playing at this weight. I'm moving well, but I still want to shed some more pounds and get to 330-320. But I don't want to get too light to play guard (smile)."

Talavou always felt comfortable with his run-blocking, but feels that his pass-blocking has been improving quite a bit as of late. His development hasn't gone unnoticed, and last month in camp he was able, much like these days, take advantage of an injury to a player to strut his own abilities. "In camp I felt like I had a chance to maybe start this season because Stephen Berg was out for a while," he commented. "I had to step up and play with both the 1's and 2's. That kinda prepared me for a situation like this one now, and I now I'm ready to do my thing."

The accolades to the front five have been pouring in every week by various players. Talavou himself is also very pleased with how his group is performing. "I think we're playing great," he said. "We already beat last year's rushing touchdown total, so we're out to a great start."

The lineman is aware of the experience that this week's opponent, the Oregon State Beavers , have at defensive tackle. Thus, he vows to dedicate himself in his preparations for Saturday's contest. "They'll be tough to match up to play against," he admitted. "I just have to watch film, see their technique and do what I have to do."

This weekend's game may be Talavou's first start, and only fourth overall game in his short ASU career, but he radiates confidence and anything but apprehension. "I worked with these guys all summer, and we all have a good bond. I'm ready to play and step up."

Can't ask much more from a talented backup ready to assume a starter's role.

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