When sophomore Defensive End Chris Bowers, who plays the LEO (rush end) position, did his post-spring evaluation, there was one thing that was apparent to him.
"I had a good spring and came out of spring as the number one LEO, but I knew I had to put on 15-20 pounds in order to hold up as an every-down player on the defensive line in the SEC and in this scheme," Bowers noted.
Bowers went about trying to pack on good weight. As of July 17, when this interview was conducted, Chris weighed in at 245 pounds, up nearly 15 pounds from his spring training weight. He'd like to be at 250 when the season starts.
"I'm holding the weight fine right now," Chris, who is visibly thicker, stated. "I run at 1 o'clock in the heat of the day and so far I have been able to maintain the weight, which is encouraging. About five more pounds and I'll be happy."
This is a familiar story for Chris. He came out of spring of 2004 as the number one LEO with the intention of gaining weight as well, but he was sideswiped en route to his goal.
"I developed a cyst and had to have an operation in the summer to remove it. I was out for awhile with that and I wasn't 100% when camp rolled around. Mentally, it got to me," he stated. "It was tough winning the job in spring, but losing it in August because I had the setback in the summer and couldn't get in top shape for the season, but I learned from it and grew from it."
Now, he's in great shape. Heavier and eager to take over at LEO, his natural position.
"I have really been pleased that with the weight gain I have kept my movement. I'm as quick as I have ever been and I'm also stronger," he explained. "When Coach O (Ed Orgeron) came in here and started descirbing the LEO position, I knew it was made for me. It's everything I like to do on the football field - get after the passer, be a downhill player and try to make things happen.
"It didn't work out for me last year for a couple of reasons, but now I feel great about the future. I went from 285 to 310 in the power clean, I have gained about 15 pounds in good body weight, my movement is good and I think I can hold up against the run now."
Chris can't wait to get the pads on and test out his new body.
"I know I am stronger and believe I will be able to take on blocks better. I also feel I'll be able to deliver more solid hits," Bowers noted. "I know I fit into the scheme better at my current weight - Coach O wants his DEs to be in the 250-plus range. I intend to be there."
Bowers is not only happy with the offseason results he has seen in himself, he's not the least bit hesitant about a completely new starting defensive line being in the lineup in the fall.
"We don't have the experience we did last year on the DL, but we have a lot of raw talent and I know our coaches are going to coach us up," he closed. "Just as long as we continue to keep working and learning, I think we'll get better every week and end up a better D-Line than we have had here in a long time."
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