Why I don’t want WSU's Hercules Mata'afa to show a big weight gain on next week's roster release

WHEN THE UPDATED spring weights are released next week by Washington State, the focus will be on the big gainers. But I hope one Cougar in particular, a 242-pound rising defensive lineman named Hercules Mata’afa, shows only a modest weight gain. The reason can be found in two words, and harkens back to 2003.

Adam Braidwood.

Braidwood checked in at 6-4, 245 pounds in 2002 as a freshman at WSU. And he was an unholy terror on special teams and as a d-end sub off the bench that season. Then-head man Mike Price after that first season gushed about how by the time Braidwood left WSU, he would be more productive than Rien Long.  Then Braidwood packed on 20 pounds before his sophomore season. By the time he was a senior, he weighed 274 pounds.

Braidwood was a good player for WSU. But he never realized the star potential from his freshman season. He bulked himself up into a tweener – too small for an elite DT, and no longer having the quickness nor speed of an elite Pac-10 d-end.

Mata'afa at 6-2, 242 pounds last season can add some poundage and be the better for it, don’t get me wrong.  He’s naturally (almost freakishly) strong but there’s room to add some muscle, some good weight. But he's not long, he doesn’t have the frame that would seem to lend itself to a monster weight gain.

That’s why I’d like to see a smallish weight increase next to Mata’afa’s name next week when WSU SID puts out the roster.

Mata'afa's quickness off the snap last season was pronounced.  His back-end pursuit speed was more that of a SAM, or even in some cases a big strong safety. 

With reps this season more representative of a starter, in place of last year's super sub role, Mata'afa's sacks, total tackles and momentum-changing plays could soar.

And so when it comes to Mata’afa and his ceiling, from this chair, that means not too big.  Not too small.  Just right.

Braidwood has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since leaving Washington State and becoming the first pick in the CFL draft. But at last check, he appeared to be putting his life back on the right track. For more, see this article from December in the Edmonton Sun: CLICK HERE.

WSU's spring roster weights generally reflect players at their heaviest all year, with the winter workouts are focused on adding muscle and bulk. After spring ball and through the summer, the offseason regimen changes to focus on conditioning, and players “lean up” before heading into August's fall camp.

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