Wadley's Not Quite Skinny, But He's Getting There

Mississippi State senior offensive guard Johnny Wadley, in years past, could have easily put on a Santa Claus suit and fit the part about as well as anybody. He's always been a jolly type guy and he's always had the weight to fit the part. However, things have changed this year. While he's not quite ready to answer to the nickname Slim Jim, he is definitely a different man.

"Right now, I weigh 329," said Johnny. "You noticed that I was injured most of the time. I was always trying to lose weight so that would make me a better performer on the field. I have given up snacks and a lot of junk food. I had to give it up. I feel great, feel great. Getting all that weight off me made my limbs feel good."

Now I know 329 pounds is not exactly what you would call skinny, but when you realize what he weighed the summer before he stepped foot on the MSU campus as a true freshman, you'll better understand why it is almost skinny for Wadley.

"When I went into the (Mississippi-Alabama) all-star game, I was probably 410 or somewhere around there," said Johnny. "That was the highest that I had ever been. When I got here at State for my freshman year, I reported in at 396."

Even back then, Johnny knew he needed to lose weight, but it hasn't always been easy. His first year at State was a tough time for him, not just because of the excess weight but also due to a knee injury. When he came in for his first training camp as a true freshman, the MSU team doctors discovered that Johnny had an ACL injury. Losing weight would have to come second while he rehabed his ailing knee.

After redshirting his freshman year, Johnny came back the next year eager to play. And he was able to participate in 11 games, even starting three, but he was still carrying too much weight. However, while he knew he needed to lose, he just wasn't ready to make the commitment.

Then, at the start of his sophomore year, during the middle of training camp, he suffered another injury. This time it was a severely sprained ankle. He had a starting assignment wrapped up, but lost it due to the injury. He finally realized carrying all that weight was just too much for his knees and ankles.

"I have been trying to lose weight ever since I've been here," said Johnny "but I had finally got to a point where I had to get my weight down. I had to do it. I dropped 40 pounds during that time, getting down to 350 or so."

While he wanted to lose even more, he seemed to be stuck at 350. However, that all changed when Mississippi State hired Sylvester Croom to replace the retiring Jackie Sherrill. While Coach Sherrill liked his linemen big, Coach Croom felt some of them were too big, including Johnny. So, Johnny started losing weight in earnest and is now down to 329. But Coach Croom wants him to lose even more.

"Coach wants me to get down to 320," said Johnny. "And I'm almost there, although I'm still struggling to get there."

A by-product of losing all that weight, in addition to being healthy, is he can finally exhibit a trait that he's had to hold in due to the injuries.

"I've always been hurt, so I couldn't be the leader that I wanted to be," said Johnny. "The guys would look at me wanting me to do something, but I couldn't do it because I was always hurt. My goal this year is to be able to help lead my team without any injuries standing in my way."

While he's finally entering a season healthy, we media types have noticed that Johnny's still leaving practice a few minutes early to visit the training room. Is it a trained response that his body just can't forget after doing it for so many years or is there another reason?

When asked about that, Johnny said, with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, "I got so used to coming into the training room early because I was injured so much that I still do it to this day. And I want to come in and check out the guys, (trainers) Steve (Smith), Paul (Mock) and the rest of them."

Then he explained the real reason for his daily visits.

"No, I go in there to ice my legs so that I'll be fresh," said Johnny. "And I do my running in the hydro-pool to help my legs. It really helps a lot, a lot."

Although his short range plan is to have a healthy senior season after so many injury-plagued years, Johnny knows losing weight is more than just a one-year thing for him.

"My plan, when I give up football, is to continue losing weight," said Johnny. "My lifetime goal is to get down to 220 to 240. I know it will be hard, but I can do it. I'll going to continue eating right and continue to exercise, something like 40 minutes of cardio everyday. I have to. Being overweight is a big deal these days because people are having strokes and other things like that. I want to make sure I live well for my family."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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