Bulking up

CLEMSON - It happened just a couple of times last year, but it happened enough to where Brandon Maye knew he needed to do something about it.

In a couple of instances when going for the running back, Clemson's middle linebacker became engulfed by a 300-pound pulling guard. At the time, the 220-pound Maye knew he had no chance to disengage as he helplessly watched the ball carrier go right by.

"When I took on offensive linemen, I would get caught up and I felt like if I put more weight on I could be a little bit better at the point of contact," he said.

So that's what he has done.

In just two short months, Maye has increased his weight from 220 pounds at the Gator Bowl, to 231 pounds for spring practice.

And he doesn't plan on stopping there. His goal is to get to 240 pounds before the start of the 2009 season.

"I feel like if I want to take my game to the next level, I need to change my eating habits and get my body right," Maye said. "If I want to be the guy in the middle and have a chance to play for Coach (Kevin) Steele then I need to bulk up.

"He coached Ernie Sims and those guys at Florida State. They weren't the biggest linebackers, but they were in great shape and they came out and made plays."

But Maye did not eat cheeseburgers and drink milkshakes to put on the extra weight. He went and got the advice of performance coordinator Dr. Loreto Jackson and strength coach Joey Batson to make sure he put the weight on the right and healthy way.

The two coordinated a diet and exercise plan that has the rising sophomore eating six meals a day - three small and three large - while snacking in and out of class.

"He looks good," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. Maye is also looking good in practice. "He has instincts and he plays with a big motor, it is just adapting to the new system," Steele said. "We have to knock some of the rough edges off a couple of things because he is just a sophomore."

Last year, Maye recorded 87 tackles to rank fourth on the team, while posting 5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. Now with the new weight, he will have an opportunity to surpass those marks.

"He looks like a kid out there who has played a little bit," Swinney said. "Last year, he thought he knew how to play and he was trying to figure it out.

"He is starting to get a little bit of swagger to him, but he still has a ways to go."

Especially in his leadership skills, something Swinney challenged Maye about following Tuesday night's practice.

"I want him to really be a leader," the Clemson coach said. "We have to have leaders, and I'm really challenging him to be one of those guys." So far Maye is at least leading the way by example.

"It took a lot of discipline for me to put on this weight. In this defense everyone has to be sound and everyone has to fit up in the right spots. Alabama played this defense last year and you saw how good they were.

"If I can fit up and take on a guard then my safeties will be able to fit up better, and that will help other people make plays too."

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