Transformed Lineman Pushes for Playing Time

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Body transformation was part one of the plan, and now red-shirt freshman guard Tariq Cole moves on to the next step as a rising competitor for playing time on the 2015 Rutgers offensive line.

The words “body transformation” will always associate themselves with Rutgers red-shirt freshman offensive lineman Tariq Cole, who is the latest in a line of physically changed big men for the Scarlet Knights.

Cole worked himself into an impressive 315 pounds for his first Rutgers spring after he spent much of high school in competition with the 400-pound plateau. He joins names like Mike Fladell and Anthony Davis with his new physique.

“[Strength] coach [Jeremy] Cole made me get into shape whether I liked it or not, so it really helped me down the long run,” Cole said. “I’m mentally prepared to do a lot of things I’m doing now.”

Cole knew his weight would play a key role in college recruiting, and quickly jumped on his first scholarship offer from Rutgers after he impressed head coach Kyle Flood.

“When you see a ninth grader who is 400 pounds who can still move around and play basketball and run around on the field during camp the conversation was pretty simple," said Flood, who recruited New York as a Greg Schiano assistant at the time. "Hey, do you want to play Division 1 football? He said yes. I (told him) by your junior year get under 350 and you'll have a chance. And he did. We tracked him all the way through. … He's playing good football right now but he's got a long way to go. He's still young.”

Cole worked himself into a feature role at guard in what will be one of the hottest position battles of summer. Flood stated that a rotation is possible on his 2015 offensive line. Cole clearly earned a chance with his offseason work ethic and a solid spring so far.

Cole works at both left and right guard in practice alongside first-teamers Chris Muller and Dorian Miller.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Cole said. “It’s a new experience for me though, so it’s tough work. I’ve never been through something like this. Growing up in New York, there was no such thing as spring football.”

Jokingly blaming his mother’s excellent cooking for early weight issues, Cole is now a workout warrior in the bowels of the Hale Center.

“I love working out now,” he said. “I go in twice a day … and we lift all of the time. It’s gotten me a lot stronger than I was when I got started. My bench [press] has greatly improved since I started from working out twice a day. It’s fun.

“ …I feel like I can move a lot better now. My pulls are getting a lot better.”

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