Sunday, August 24, 2003

OSU linemen trim down

Diets have the Buckeyes ready for this season

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Forget all those trendy ways of losing weight. "I'm on the Chipotle diet," Ohio State offensive tackle Adrien Clarke said with a wide grin. "I ain't on the Slim-Fast diet."

Whatever the regimen - whether it's going with tomatillo salsa and staying away from sour cream - it's working for Clarke and the rest of his teammates on the front wall.

The Buckeyes linemen surprised many of their teammates by shedding weight and toning up between last year's regular-season finale against Michigan and the Fiesta Bowl against Miami six weeks later.

They felt so good and played so well that they've continued their "losing" ways during the Buckeyes' summer workouts, which lead up to the opener Saturday against Washington at Ohio Stadium.

Tackle Shane Olivea said it's just common sense.

"Throughout the season, injuries can sometimes be prevented if you're in better shape," Olivea said. "We took it as a line that we want to get in shape and get more fit. That's what we did for the bowl game. We lost something like 75 pounds as an offensive line from the Michigan game to the Fiesta Bowl."

Coach Jim Tressel and his staff noticed the difference.

"I was really proud of the way they made a major step," he said. "They had a good winter and spring and their summer has been excellent. They're veterans, and they have a lot of pride in themselves. They want to play better than they've ever played."

Clarke said the linemen had plenty of incentive. He said he heard snide comments about his bulging gut from reporters and assistant coaches.

"You guys knew I was heavy, because I heard about it all the time," he said.

Clarke's body may have more definition, but his math skills remain fuzzy. He said he lost 40-45 pounds since last season and that he was 365 pounds at his heaviest. Yet he says his current weight is 335.

"I'm about 335," he laughed, explaining away the discrepancy. "That's close enough."

Center Alex Stepanovich looked to his left, then to his right, and said he's impressed with the dedication his teammates have shown not only on the field but also at the buffet line.

"We might be a little better athletically - a little quicker, a little stronger," he said.

That fitness is something Olivea has noticed both in the team's performance as well as in his individual showing during the Buckeyes' camp.

"Coming into this year, guys are in a lot better shape," Olivea said. "I know I am. This is probably the best shape I've been in since my sophomore year."

Clarke at a glance

Class: Fifth-year senior

Position: Offensive guard

Size: 6 feet 5, 335 pounds

Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio

Quick hits: Started 29 of his first 39 games. ... 19 starts have been at guard, the other 10 at tackle.

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