Smaller is Better

Trimming down has been a key for Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman as he settles into a starting job with the Nittany Lions.

There's good news for Penn State offensive lineman Johnnie Troutman contained in this week's depth chart: He is not even close to being the heaviest player listed.

There's also some bad news, as Troutman appears to be the beneficiary of a typo. Unless fellow lineman Lou Eliades really has ballooned to 3,010 pounds, the competition for the title of heaviest Penn State starter is a lot closer than the numbers alone would seem to indicate.

Troutman, a redshirt sophomore guard, has been trying to slim down to appease Joe Paterno. He was listed at 318 pounds last season and was 322 when this year's media guide was compiled over the summer. His weight clearly irked Paterno. When the Lions reassembled their graduation-depleted offensive line in the off-season, they gave the starting nod to redshirt freshman Matt Stankiewitch initially, in part because Troutman was deemed too heavy.

“He was 28, 29 percent body fat,” Paterno said. “We wanted him down to about 22 percent, and we wanted him under 310 pounds. We thought he would be best at 305.”

Chastened, Troutman continued working to shed pounds. He reduced the size of his portions, intensified his exercise and worked with the team nutritionist. He is now listed at 309 pounds and has been starting since week three against Temple.

“When somebody tells you you're not going to play until you lose the weight, you definitely try everything possible to get the weight down,” he said.

Troutman, who rebounded from a torn ACL as a senior at Pemberton High in New Jersey, called the preoccupation with his weight “annoying,” but he's pleased to finally be part of a starting offensive line that appears to be making progress after an unsteady start.

“I think the Illinois game we started to do a lot of the little things right,” he said. “We're looking to keep on improving.”

Troutman can expect Paterno to keep after him. Now that he's played his way into the starting lineup, the last thing his coach wants is to see any regression.

“At 325, he's a lousy football player,” Paterno said. “[At] 305, he has a chance to be a good one. He's not there yet, but he has a chance to be a good one.”

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