Beef in College Park at restaurants, not on players

August 18, 1998|By RON SOMERS / Sports Editor

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - If business drops at local sub shops, the owners will have to understand that it's for the good of the Maryland Terrapins football team.

Terps offensive lineman Jamie Wu, for one, has cut way down on his consumption of mayonnaise-laden cheese steaks and Big Macs.

Coaches' orders.

Last year, Wu played right guard at a hefty 320 pounds. Coach Ron Vanderlinden said Wu had trouble hitting moving targets, meaning linebackers.

He wasn't the only one. Maryland had eight players over 300 pounds last year. That kind of bulk might be OK in the Big Ten, where before last season Vanderlinden was as assistant at Northwestern.


But the Atlantic Coast Conference is a speedier league, and Vanderlinden opted for less beef, more quickness. The word went out to the Terps' big boys - slim down, speed up.

Wu, who now weighs 285, balked at first.

"When they told us to lose weight, I said, why, why, why?'' Wu said Friday at Maryland's annual media day.

But that was the mandate from Vanderlinden and offensive line coach Elliott Uzelac, who gathered his players together and read off a list of foods and how much fat they contained.

"They were shocked,'' Uzelac said, chuckling at the high correlation between great taste and high fat.

But they got the message.

"I was eating a lot of fattier foods,'' Wu said. "But I started watching what I ate and stopped going out for McDonald's and cheese steaks at that little place on the corner.''

But the big boys couldn't become smaller by diet alone. They arose at 6:30 in the morning and worked out.

"We had them running distances and sprints,'' Uzelac said.

Wu hasn't played at his new weight yet. That won't happen until Sept. 5 in the opener when Maryland plays James Madison at Byrd Stadium. But he feels better.

"It's made us a lot quicker,'' he said. "We're a fighting machine instead of a bulldozer. We're more explosive and come off the ball quicker.''

The theory is that the slimmer line will be able to better open holes for the runners and better protect the quarterback, making for a more efficient offense.

Wu brought his body fat down from 22 percent to 11 percent. He feels that he lost some muscle mass as well as fat, but that's no big deal.

"I lost a little bit of strength, but the fat was not helping me,'' he said.

Left tackle Ryan Rezzelle went from 310 to 282, and right tackle Brett Trammell dropped from 315 to 295. Right guard Chris Snader went from 310 to 275.

The only drawback?

"I needed a whole new set of clothes,'' Wu said. "I still wear the old ones. But they're a little baggy.''

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