Spriggs looks like a new man

Jason Spriggs was an undersized starting left tackle in the Big Ten last year at around 265 pounds. He vowed to change that in the offseason. As camp starts, he is now tipping the scales at close to 300 pounds and he feels stronger, too.

Jason Spriggs played at around 240 pounds as a high school senior two years ago at Concord High School in Elkhart, Ind.

Last year, when he started 12 games at left tackle as a true freshman at Indiana, he played at around 260.

This year, he tips the scales at 295 and he said the 30 extra pounds feels very natural.

"Personally I think it's going to help a lot in the run game,'' Spriggs said Monday night in an interview at Indiana's Media Day. "That's something I felt like I lacked last year. ‘'

Spriggs said his weight gain regimen was no mystery: eat and lift. He said he worked hard in the offseason with IU's head strength and conditioning coach Mark Hill. He also credited Amy Freel, IU's assistant athletic director for sports performance, in helping him add protein to his diet.

"I think that's really what hammered it down,'' Spriggs said of the combination of Hill and Freel.

Compared to how he looked last season, Spriggs is massive. Asked what kinds of things he ate to put on the weight, Spriggs just smiled.

"You can really eat anything,'' Spriggs said. "Especially when you're an O-lineman.''

Despite being undersized by Big Ten standards up front, Spriggs had a solid freshman campaign. Besides starting all 12 games, an Indiana freshman record, he led the team with 80 knockdowns and surrendered just two sacks in 961 offensive snaps.

He is now one of the anchors of an offensive line that will start three juniors and two sophomores. Right guard Dan Feeney is a true sophomore, while right tackle Peyton Eckert and left guard Bernard Taylor are true juniors. Center Collin Rahrig is a redshirt junior.

Last season, IU did not have a starter on the offensive line that weighed more than 300 pounds. This year that's the average. Feeney and Eckert are right around 305, Taylor is right at 300 and Spriggs said he is somewhere between 295 and 300. Rahrig also gained 10 pounds in the offseason to get up to 285.

Spriggs said he has been working on run blocking more than anything in the offseason. He just feels like it's an area where needs to improve. It's an area where the Hoosiers need to improve in the running game as well. Last year, IU's backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry but that number was exaggerated by some long runs during the year by Stephen Houston. Take those away and IU was probably closer to 3 yards per carry.

"It's definitely an area where we need to improve,'' said IU running backs coach Deland McCullough. "But we have some good backs who have one more year of experience.''

Spriggs said the difference between run blocking and pass blocking is the difference between initiating the action and waiting on it.

"It's the difference between taking the action to them or letting it come to you,'' Spriggs said. "But with coach Frey the attitude changes all of that in the passing game, too. We're waiting for them to come to us so we can punch them and get them off of the quarterback.

"In the run game we're trying to be more physical and get our opponent on the ground and in the passing game we're striving to do the same thing.''

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/foxsportshutch.

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