When David Traxler, a sophomore offensive tackle for the Rebels, enters a room, he's an impressive physical specimen.
6-foot-6. 290 pounds. Less than 20% body fat, which is the ideal standard for OL in the Ole Miss program.
He's done everything in his power to get that way and takes pride in those achievments, but the one thing he wanted the most - earning a starting slot during 2006 spring training - did not materialize.
"I wasn't happy with my spring because I did not emerge as a starter," he said bluntly. "I had a pretty good spring game to lead me into the summer, but I still ended up Number 2 at left tackle behind Michael (Oher)."
During the summer months, David has "worked hard to get stronger."
"I improved my power clean 10 pounds to 330. I improved my bench by 20 pounds and my squat by 25 pounds. I'm pretty proud of that," he continued. "Also, I have made all my running times. I've had a good summer. I just have to take it on the field in two-a-days."
David's weight varies between 285 and 290, which is close to where Trax wants to be when the season rolls around.
"I haven't been told to gain a bunch of weight - Coach (Art) Kehoe wants us lean and mobile," he said, "but personally, I'd like to be around 295 when the season comes around. Somewhere between 295-300 and keep my body fat below 20%, that's my ultimate goal for this year. I feel I'm strong enough and quick enough now, but I'd like a little more good bulk."
Traxler said the next step is transferring all the hard work onto the practice and game fields.
"I have talked to some coaches about what I need to do and I agree completely with their assessment," David evaluated. "In the weight room, I am always thinking aobut beating the weight I have in my weight book. When I am running, I am always trying to beat the times I have to run. I'm always trying to win in the weight room and in conditioning, but in the past I have lost that edge on the field.
"I need to get meaner or hacked off more. It's not like I'm not competitive, but I can never be OK with getting beat."
Traxler said his situation is hard to explain.
"I guess I've been too nice or something. My strength is good. My size is good. My speed and quickness are very good, but I haven't gottten the mindset yet of thinking I couldn't lose," he tried to explain. "It's not like I don't play hard. It's not like I'm not trying, but I've got to get it in my mind and in my gut that I'm not going to get beat.
"I have to have the mindset that I can't be beat and if I do get beat, it's not going to happen again. It's hard to describe and explain, but I know what I'm looking for in a mindset I want to play with."
If Traxler gets that mindset, the sky is the limit for him.
"I've been blessed with a great frame and I've worked hard to develop it. My next step is using all these tools I have to the team's advantage and to my advantage," he ended.
Most "experts" who study the human mind believe the number one way to correct a problem is to first recognize there is one.
Traxler has identified his and is intent on fixing it. August will tell the tale.
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