Playing his senior season at 375 pounds, Long Beach (N.Y.) tackle Tariq Cole is hard at work to get himself into Big Ten playing shape. Cole was eager to get started on the Rutgers workout plan when he received it after National Signing Day.
The 6-foot-6 tackle works out daily, and hopes to arrive for training camp in the best shape of his life.
"It's definitely paying off," Cole said. "I feel great. I'm able to lift more. I'm in much better shape. It's a really good workout. I'm hoping to get down to about 325 and then put on a couple pounds of muscle during training camp."
Cole referred to his spring workouts as a welcome challenge.
"It was hard for me," Cole said. "It took a while to get used to all of the new lifts. It was a challenge mentally. I know I can be better every day. That's the goal."
Offensive line coach Mitch Browning told Cole he would come in as a tackle, and that the staff would explore other options on the line if it was not a good fit.
"He said he wanted to start me out at left tackle," Cole said. "I've been playing left tackle almost my whole career, so it's a good fit."
Cole was on campus twice during the spring, including a visit for the scarlet-white game. Left tackle Keith Lumpkin was one of Cole's focuses, and the junior two-year stood out to him.
"He impressed me a lot," Cole said. "That's really all I can say. It was a great visit. … It was fun seeing all of my teammates, and getting to know them more. I was just learning more about them. We all have the same goals. They seem like good people. It's an amazing environment."
Cole said his two spring trips and his official visit have him ready to put on the uniform for real when he enrolls in two weeks.
"Rutgers was a great choice," Cole said. "I'm really proud of it, because I know everybody there cares about me. They don't just see me as a piece of meat. It's a family atmosphere and I love that."