Tariq Cole went through his own version of “The Biggest Loser” during his first semester at Rutgers. Weighing 375 pounds when he signed to play for coach Kyle Flood, the freshman guard is down more than 30 pounds.
The product of extra conditioning, eating right and some motivation words from the coaching staff, the 6-foot-6 Cole was one to watch during developmental bowl practices.
“It’s a lot easier to move around,” Cole said on reshaping his body. I’m always running. I run to practice every day, and if I don’t run then coach Flood yells at me. I weight lift twice a day, and I’m always working. I had to lose extra weight just to be faster and compete with everybody on the team.”
Flood commented last week that offensive line was the spot to watch in developmental periods. With Kaleb Johnson, Betim Bujari and Taj Alexander graduating after this season, plenty of playing time goes up for grabs in spring practice.
Cole‘s opportunity begins in December with extra practice time.
“We’re all going to fight for a spot next year, so I want as many reps as the coaches will give me,” Cole said. “Kaleb and Betim really are good teachers for me about the stuff I need to do inside. Having Taj on the outside is great because he’ll teach me about what he does at right tackle.”
With a massive wingspan and quicker feet, Cole sees the mental aspects as his next area for improvement.
“I had a lot of work with my zone blocking,” Cole said. “It’s a lot different in high school than college.”
Offensive line coach Mitch Browning keeps a close watch over Cole, who is a name to watch with multiple starting positions open in spring.
“It’s a good thing to have this extra time,” Cole said. “I’ve been getting more reps and spending a lot of time with coach Browning. It’s a big help.”
Where does Cole work in spring?
Guard has more opportunities, but any spot works for Cole, he said.
“Any position on the line is fine with me,” Cole said. “I work with [graduate assistant Sam] Williams and we’ve gone over every position on the field. Wherever they need me to play, I feel like I could step in there.”
On playing against Darius Hamilton -- “It’s a great chance to get better, and they’re some of the best guys that are in the Big Ten on defense. They know what they’re doing, and they kick my butt every once in a while. Of course I’ll get them back too. I love having the back-and-forth with them.”
On practicing at Ford Field -- “I can’t wait. It’s the second time I’ll be going to an NFL stadium because I also went to Washington State. Having a game at the Lions stadium is cool.”
On a Tariq Cole fathead -- “It’s going to my grandmother because she hasn’t been able to watch me play football. She’ll love it.”