When Mark Jean-Louis was signed out of the California JUCO ranks in December, he expected to be somewhat of a force on the Rebel offensive line in spring training.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury he got in his last junior college game was more severe than originally thought and his spring session was cut short.
"I ended up having to get an operation on my ankle and I missed half of spring practice," Jean-Louis said. "I thought the break in my ankle would heal by spring, but I had to have surgery and remain in a boot a long time - until mid-January.
"In the meantime, being inactive all those weeks, I put on some extra pounds I didn't need. I got up to the 360-pound range. So not only was I coming off an injury when spring started, I was overweight."
When Mark did finally get to suit up the last half of spring training, there was the normal adjustments all newcomers have to make to Division I football.
"I didn't know the system or techniques very well and I was still struggling some with the ankle. Also, I wasn't in the best shape," he continued. "My first practice, I was a little in awe of the speed of the game.
"It is one thing to watch plays and techniques on tape, which I had been doing, but it's totally different to go out on the field and execute those techniques within the system. I was winging it most of the time."
He started to catch on late in the spring, however.
"It was not a lost spring. I didn't accomplsih what I hoped I would, but I started making progress at the end of spring," he stated. "From my first practice to my last, I got a lot better. I learned my plays and my technique got better, but I needed a lot more reps to to what I wanted to do and get where I wanted to get."
Jean-Louis is now in the 340-pound range and is shedding weight regularly.
"I want to get down to 320-325 and I think I will. I'm full speed now and am working out regularly. Being active will help me shed the pounds," Mark added. "The rate I'm going now, 320 is realistic. I work out every day and play basketball in the afternoons. I'm in a lot better shape."
Jean-Louis feels he has something to prove this summer and in August.
"My goal is to get in the best shape of my life and show everyone what I can do in August," said Mark, who plays both guard slots. "My strengths are my speed and strength. I wasn't able to max in the clean and the squat, but I maxed at 430 pounds in the bench and I know I can move when I'm in good shape.
"I feel like I can really help this group. We have a lot of talent here, but I feel I fit in. At least I know I will fit in when I am healthy, in shape and at the right weight."
Jean-Louis feels if he can accomplish those offseason goals - and there is no reason he can't - that two-a-days will be a lot different than spring.
"I know I will be able to contribute and that's what I'm here for," he closed.
Mark Jean-Louis update
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