Being an offensive lineman is difficult. More so than any other position on the football field, linemen need to work hard in the weight room, but also in the dining room. For most players at the position, maintaining a weight over 300 pounds is a major challenge, especially given the amount of strength training and physical activity that these players go through on a daily basis.
It can be even more difficult when a player is trying to bulk up to a feasible playing weight for a lineman, whether that happens gradually or as the result of a position change. Several linemen at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine started out their high school or college careers as tight ends, and needed to add weight quickly to make the transition to the line.
On Wednesday, Acme Packing Company caught up with a number of linemen to find out what kinds of food they like, how they cheat on their clean eating habits, and the crazy things they have done to put weight on over the years. Here are a handful of the responses.
Jack Driscoll, OT, Auburn: Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
One of the tight end converts — he made the switch in high school — Driscoll ate so many PB&J sandwiches that he started to feel sick at the smell of them. “I’d eat breakfast, I’d pack two for class and throughout my day I’d eat them. I’d eat lunch and eat dinner and before bed I’d eat two or three and drink a bunch of protein shakes and stuff.”
Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville: Mama’s soul food
A mountain of a man, Becton measured in at a massive 6-foot-7 3/8 and 364 pounds on Tuesday. His size led to a funny back-and-forth with reporters about the 2020 NFL Draft, as the event in Las Vegas will involve players being taken out to the stage by boat after their selections. Becton joked that “they’ll need an extra large one for me.”
But even better was when he responded to a question about if he would be nervous about falling out of the boat. “I don’t know how to swim. I’m used to standing up in the water, so I never really had to swim. I hope that water’s not deep so I have to swim.”
That size may come from his favorite meal, which is no one thing in particular, but rather his mother’s cooking overall. He praised her for cooking soul food: “Everything pretty much. I don’t really have a (favorite) meal. She makes everything good: mac and cheese, fried chicken, collard greens — that’s a good plate right there. You have your starch and your greens.”
Josh Jones, OT, Houston: movie snacks and seafood
Jones, a movie buff who goes to the theater as often as he can, admitted to sneaking some snacks when he hits the concession stand before showtime. He gets popcorn, but sheepishly revealed that he does also drink an occasional Icee.
As for how he keeps his weight on, he avoids snacks outside of the theater: “You just gotta stay disciplined throughout the week. Gotta get your proteins in, gotta get your vegetables in. Big thing for me is cutting out the candy, cutting out the snacks, eating too late. Also staying in the weight room, building on that muscle mass.”
Jones’ favorite meal, however, is a great source of protein. “Seafood, man. I want the crawfish, crab legs, shrimp. You come down to Houston, let me know, I got you man, I got a good spot.”
Matt Peart, OT, Connecticut: Jamaican food and...burgers, maybe?
I didn’t ask Peart about sharing a last name with the greatest drummer of all time (rest in peace, Neil), but I did ask him about his eating habits. One of many offensive linemen who played tight end in their younger days, Peart started at that position in high school before moving to defensive line and eventually tackle for his senior year. He said that he steadily put on weight all throughout high school, but didn’t have a specific go-to meal:
“I just understood that to get bigger you have to lift more and eat more so that’s about all I did. I’d get to the dining hall, dinner probably started at 5 and I was in there until 7 eating. Our football coach and basketball coach would open the weight room early so I could get in and lift.”
But if he had a cheat meal or didn’t have to eat clean, what would he go for? “If I didn’t have to eat clean, whew. I love Jamaican food, but Jamaican food is clean food. Shoot. Dang, I’d just keep it simple, I guess a burger and fries would be good.”
Netane Muti, OG, Fresno State: 10x10
While Peart struggled to come up with a favorite cheat meal, it should come as little surprise that linemen in California make In-N-Out Burger a frequent stop. Still, this is a bit absurd:
Fresno State guard Netane Muti, one of the draft’s top run blockers, says he’s polished off a 10x10 at In-N-Out Burger: 10 beef patties, 10 slices of cheese. pic.twitter.com/ZJsX2YgvRE— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) February 26, 2020
Ben Bartch, OT, St. John’s: the “Magic Shake”
The Division III offensive tackle played tight end for his first two college seasons, but his coaches asked him to bulk up for a switch to tackle for his junior year. That’s when he came up with one of he most awful-sounding concoctions imaginable. I read about a secret shake that he came up with to help him put on weight that year and asked him about the ingredients:
“The summer after my sophomore year I was asked to switch to offensive line. I would get up at like 5 and I would have to go work — I was a strength coach at a local high school. So in order to get my breakfast, I didn’t really have time to eat the full amount of carbohydrates and protein that I needed.”
Here are the ingredients that he said went into the blender for his creation. (Warning: just reading this list may make you feel sick.)
- 7 eggs
- Tub of cottage cheese
- Grits (quick-cooking)
- Peanut butter
- Gatorade (flavor not specified)
“Then I would just throw it all in and then just plug my nose. I would gag sometimes, but that’s what you have to do sometimes. It was pretty much five days a week. The ingredients, I just kind of researched online the most clean and healthy ingredients to gain mass. That summer I went up from 250 to 275, then after that I went from 275 to 305.”
The sacrifices that players make for football truly are impressive.