Roster update reveals gains of more than 20 pounds on several Huskers

July 27, 2018

Jerald Foster gained 25 pounds. Tanner Farmer put on 20. Matt Farniok 15. Brendan Jaimes 20. Carlos Davis? Thirty pounds.

The first job for Nebraska strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval was to make the Huskers bigger and stronger. That’s what his boss, Scott Frost, wanted to see — a team that could hold up in the Big Ten and wear down foes in the fourth quarter.

Nebraska released its media guide at Big Ten media days and it featured updated weights of Husker players. Based on the big differences before and after summer workouts, the physical transformation has begun.

Davis made a startling gain — 295 pounds to 325 on a 6-foot-2 frame. He’s now big enough, theoretically, to play nose tackle. So is Vaha Vainuku, who’s also listed at 325. Damion Daniels went from 310 to 340.

Foster bulked up from 310 pounds to 335. Jaimes now weighs 300, which may be 40 pounds more than he weighed last season when he became a rare true freshman starter at right tackle.

The biggest gains among linemen belong to DaiShon Neal, who went from 275 pounds to 310, and Ben Stille, who’s up to 290 from 255.

Those weights may seem big, but they’re fairly standard in a 3-4 defense. Wisconsin’s nose tackle, for example, weighs north of 340. One of Wisconsin’s starting defensive ends will hit 300 pounds. Alabama’s front is giant.

NU’s linemen weren’t the only players to gain considerable weight.

Tyjon Lindsey played at 160 pounds last season. He maybe weighed even less than that after being hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis following early workouts under Duval. Lindsey now weighs 200 pounds.

Running back Mikale Wilbon weighs 225 pounds. Devine Ozigbo is up to 235, though that’s not much more than the 230 he previously weighed.

In the span of a few months, Nebraska looks like a true Big Ten program. In the seven years NU has been in the league, the Huskers were rarely the biggest team on the field in conference play. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa all had size advantages, if not the speed edge, too.

But these updated weights indicate the Huskers think they can keep speed while getting big. Nebraska’s offense and defense, after all, is predicated on being aggressive and attacking the opponent.

Though players tend to lose weight during training camp — it’s natural with all the work they do — Nebraska stands to be much bigger than its first three opponents (Akron, Colorado and Troy) and stack up more comparably against Michigan and Wisconsin.

Frost said at Big Ten media days he lets Duval do his job without much interference. Frost touts Duval like few college football coaches tout their strength coaches. He believes in the rebuilding effort.

“Nebraska’s ‘Pipeline U.’ Nobody had better offensive lines than Nebraska had for 20 years,” Frost said. “Out of the Midwest we got them and put them in the strength and conditioning program, and by the time they got on the field they looked like grown men.

“That hasn’t existed at Nebraska for awhile. It’s not an overnight change. You have to rebuild the pipeline. But we’ve got the right guy in (offensive line coach) Greg Austin, the right strength coach in Zach Duval, to make all that happen.”

Frost said NU’s biggest falloff, over many years, was in strength and conditioning.

“Guys just don’t look like they should,” Frost said. “And we’re starting to get there. You see the changes in these guys in two cycles, it’s a big deal. They’ve really changed their bodies and look great.”