Pete Tverdov, one of Rutgers football program's finest defensive tackles, considers the ancient spiritual practices due to the physicality and nature of competing against 300-pound offensive linemen.
"Last year, playing nose, your body gets abused," Tverdov said. "My goal this year is try to be completely healthy. It's kind of a little unrealistic, but yoga has helped me with flexibility, balance."
Convincing his teammates to participate has been a challenge for Tverdov who enjoys yoga.
"Not everyone does it, (but) we do it once a week," he said. "I personally like it a lot."
The 6-4 and 265-pound nose tackle out of Union HS, N.J. takes a beating from double teams and welcomes yoga for recovering from potential injuries and muscle tears.
"Sometimes at nose tackle, you're facing double teams and your body gets turned and torqued in weird positions," Tverdov stated. "I'm sure it can prevent injuries and it can prevent scar tissue that develops over the season, over the years."
Head coach Greg Schiano counts on Tverdov, who he considers one of the top players on the roster.
"He's had a good spring," Schiano said of the nose tackle. "He needs to get better as a complete player. He's one of the best we have. We need him to step up and be consistent when he plays … our experienced players need to get better."
Tverdov enters his senior and final year of eligibility, a season after the Knights earned their third consecutive bowl appearance and second straight bowl win. He welcomes the leadership challenge to bring home another winning campaign under Schiano's reign.
"As soon as the season ended and as soon as it started back up, the defensive line, we started meeting once a week on our own to work out," Tverdov said.
Last season, Tverdov felt he struggled early on before picking up the pace.
"As far as improving, I need to build off the latter part of last season," Tverdov said. "I started playing really well, got comfortable. I need to improve my pass rush, stamina, health and flexibility."
"The team's as good as your d-line is," he added. "If we get our act together and we become a good d-line, we can take the team places."
Even before the 2008 regular season schedule commences, Tverdov has already begun taking initiative, organizing meetings with his defensive line.
"I talked to Jamaal (Westerman) and every Wednesday at 6 a.m. we'd come in, do work for about 45 minutes, the little things, trying to get better," Tverdov said. "We'll continue to do it in the summer."
Tverdov takes alternate route to improvement
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