"I got my X-rays on my knees before the season and they said my growth plates are still open," Trenton Brown said.
He almost pursued basketball instead of football. Brown was already 5-8 as a 10-year-old and had Division I offers to play basketball out of high school at Old Dominion, Jacksonville State and South Carolina State. In his early days on the court, Brown even played guard, claiming his best times came when he was able to make plays in space.
Back when he was 285 pounds, Brown remembers being able to do a windmill dunk. The current 360 pounds he's carrying holds him back from that, but if he were able to drop some, Brown still thinks he'd be able to play on the court if needed.
"Oh yeah, if I dropped about 60 pounds, I could still get after it," Brown said. "I've still got the game."
He knew he needed to add weight to play junior college football. But once it started, he didn't know how to stop. Brown and his roommates loved the Zaxby's down the street for where they lived, and they ate there multiple times a week. The pounds followed soon after, and he gained 100 pounds in two years.
"That was bad," he said, shaking his head.
Playing at 360 pounds, the goal is to get down to 340 in the offseason "if not lower than that." Ever since he showed up in Gainesville, a nutritionist on the Florida staff has shadowed Brown.
"She's been with me almost every meal," he said. "I take pictures of my meal and send it to her so she could help keep me on the right track. I'm still trying to get down. It's a struggle, but I'm working on it."
Every day spent on campus and at practice has made Brown more comfortable. The speed of pass rushers took him by surprise during the early part of his time on campus. The struggles on the Florida offensive line forced him into the starting lineup over the bye week as the Gators prepared to face Georgia, the team that Brown was originally committed to during the recruiting process.
Sitting on the sideline wasn't what he expected when he came to Gainesville. Florida head coach Will Muschamp sold him on the chance to compete for time immediately, but it took seven games for him to earn a starting spot.
"It was kind of frustrating, but then I had to realize that I had to get myself prepared to play mentally," Brown said. "Physically, I have all the intangibles (his words) to play this game, but I had to learn to kind of go through the process and learn the offense and get a better understanding of what Florida was needing of me."
"I think he did a good job in the game," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "There's still some things you look at on film and say, 'Hey, you've got to improve here, you've got to improve there.' He had one holding call. But I think the kid went out and competed and was good on his assignments. I think he's good now that he's had some of those been-in-a-game situations. I think he'll get better.
"He has improved because he's been through the program, what our strength and conditioning people put him through. But he's still got a ways to go in that. But I don't think it's anything that's really holding him up."
Brown thought the line felt different on Saturday. With D.J. Humphries out of the game, it pushed Tyler Moore to left tackle and Brown in at right tackle. On Tuesday night, Moore had a scooter accident and suffered a compound fracture in his right elbow.
The offensive line will look different this week, moving Max Garcia to left tackle and either Kyle Koehne or Ian Silberman to left guard. One spot that won't change is Brown at right tackle. He played well enough to continue earning playing time.
"I felt like we gelled for the first time really well this whole season," Brown said of Saturday. "We have a motto, ‘man down, man up,' and I had to step up and take care of business Saturday. With the guys, they helped out a lot coming through the off week and last week the preparation at practice, they helped out a lot."