Friday afternoon, Eric MacLain and Stanton Seckinger sat a few feet from each other on orange-colored aluminum benches, answering questions about their recent emergence as significant contributors to Clemson's football program.
Had they sat side by side, you could've called them "Before and After."
Well, more like "After and After."
Together, the two players are testaments to how Clemson's strength and nutrition program can transform a career's trajectory. Both arrived at Clemson ill-suited for their high school positions. But with work and weight gain, both have put themselves in position to contribute this fall.
Mac Lain, who arrived at Clemson as a tight end, could see time as either an offensive guard or tackle. Seckinger, who was recruited as a wide receiver, is battling for the No.1 tight end role, vacated after projected starter Sam Cooper tore an ACL in the Orange and White game.
"You eat and lift all the time," MacLain said. "When we had breaks, I was constantly in the weight room doing extra stuff, getting the protein and carbohydrates I needed to build that extra muscle mass.
Talking to (strength) coach (Paul) Hogan and (nutritionist) Lisa Chan. They're the best at what they do, getting us the stuff we need and made it a lot easier for me."
Both players arrived in the class of 2011, but took different paths to their new spots. MacLain was rated as one of the nation's top 10 tight ends, but redshirted in 2011 and played 38 snaps as a tight end during the first half of the season. He finished the season as an offensive tackle.
Seckinger became a tight end before the 2012 season and played 88 snaps as a reserve, making four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Both needed to be bigger to contribute this fall, which became the centerpiece of their offensive plans.
This meant working out ravenously in the weight room, but also eating. And eating. Oh yeah, and eating.
MacLain estimated he consumed 4,000-5,000 calories per day, eating five to six meals.
Seckinger said he ate three meals per day, but also had snacks of protein bars between, as well as six to eight protein shakes (at 360 calories each) per day.
"I'd try to get to that number I was reaching for without eating hamburgers, fried food, the bad stuff," he said.
"It's your job to eat," MacLain said. "You can't forget a meal anymore. That's not happening. You've got to eat like five, six meals a day. Before, I would eat until I was full, now I'll eat until I'm done eating. You've got to kind of push through to gain that extra weight, but I think it's been really helpful and beneficial. "
Seckinger said nutrition was a "24-7 thing" for him.
"I room with Adam Humphries and I'd be sitting with him, saying, ‘When you eat, help remind me,'" he said. "I don't think about it. I eat when I'm hungry. I talked to (long snapper) Jim Brown and would say, ‘Tell me to eat.' I'd eat nuts, something with protein, some calories, and eat as constantly as I can."
A week into camp, the added weight is agreeing with both. Seckinger arrived at Clemson at 195; he now weighs 235 pounds. One year ago, MacLain was 253 pounds. He's now 300 on the nose.
"Just getting bigger, going stronger, going from benching 350 pounds to benching over 400, you can imagine how that will help you on the field with pass blocking and run, and then explosion," MacLain said.
Seckinger agrees the gain has helped him gain on the field.
"To be honest, I thought before I put all the weight on, I'd feel a little sluggish and my routes and speed might hurt from that," he said. "But to be honest, I feel great, I feel I'm carrying the weight very well. When we ran 40s this summer, I got faster from last year, feel great running, don't feel sluggish at all. I can definitely feel the difference when I'm blocking in the trenches."
With Cooper's injury, Seckinger will likely be putting that weight gain to good use this fall alongside freshmen Jordan Leggett and Jay Jay McCullough. He has been forced to "mature a lot quicker than I thought," but that's not such a bad thing.
"For me to be one of the guys counted on a lot this year, it's a great honor," he said. "But like I said, I had to mature a lot. I think it's going very well."
Gaining weight not easy
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