Some of the biggest guys on the University of Toledo football team aren’t so big anymore.
Several young players gunning for playing time on an inexperienced defensive line spent the summer shedding excessive weight, something their coach announced proudly the other day.
Tackles Treyvon Hester and Rob Zimmerman, both newcomers who sat out last season, have dropped about 30 pounds each to assist bids to cement roles with a thin interior. Hester, who attended Toledo last year but was not academically eligible to practice with the team, is down to 304 from 330 pounds. Zimmerman, a junior college transfer, slimmed to 306 from 337.
While also mentioning the names of sophomore tackles Chris Collins and Orion Jones, coach Matt Campbell said his young linemen “are maybe as impressive as anybody” in their body transformations.
“You saw these guys ready to leave [Monday for a quick break before preseason practices begin] and you’re like, man, these guys look like guys now,” Campbell said. “They look like they should look.”
Six defensive linemen are gone from a year ago, increasing the need for young holdovers to work their way into optimal playing shape.
Defensive end Christian Smith trained in a group this summer with Hester and can detect conditioning gains the Pittsburgh product made.
“Beginning of the summer, he struggled on the running side,” said Smith, one of two returning starters on the line. “He began to push himself. A couple guys in our lifting group told him he can have a vital role on this team if he gets in shape.”
Additionally, Campbell said offensive lineman Chase Nelson, the front-runner at right tackle, is down 20 pounds to 310.
“Looks tremendous,” Campbell said.
NEWCOMERS: In addition to Hester, two other 2012 recruits will join the team after sitting out last year for academic reasons.
Corey Jones of Pittsburgh will compete to back up Bernard Reedy at slot receiver. Cleveland product Michael Roberts, who never formally signed with Toledo, looks to compete at tight end. Roberts was once committed to Ohio University and reported offers to Rivals.com from Cincinnati, Louisville, North Carolina State, and several other schools.
CAPTAINS: Unlike last season when he named captains before the summer, Campbell is waiting until fall camp. Players voted this week, and Campbell will announce captains next Thursday when the team arrives for the first fall practice.
“This year we had some injuries in the spring, and I felt like everybody deserved the right to go through the summer,” Campbell said.
The three seniors who accompanied Campbell this week to Detroit for Mid-American Conference media day — Terrance Owens, David Fluellen, and Smith — are strong contenders for the honor. Last year’s team had six captains.
MARTIN HURT: Defensive lineman Phillip Martin’s playing career could be over after one season and zero games.
Martin, a redshirt freshman, is seeking a medical hardship waiver after injuring his wrist last year. No other players are injured heading into camp, Campbell said.
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