South Carolina defensive end Darius English had one directive from the coaching staff this offseason – add weight to his 6-foot-7 frame.
As the Gamecocks head into the second full week of spring practice, that effort can be called a success.
English has added more than 20 pounds since the end of last season and tips the scales at 248 pounds. He hopes to be in the 260-pound range by the time the 2014 season kicks off.
“I had to make sure I had all my meals and working out training hard and getting extra meals when I can,” English said. “I picked up my work ethic. I’m more mature and maybe I didn’t work as hard so I picked that up and focusing on getting my meals.”
Never miss a local story.
English has taken advantage of the nutritional program designed by new Director of Football Nutrition Joey Blake. South Carolina is one of the few schools in the country that has a nutritionist on staff to focus strictly on football players. Thus, English has been able to add the weight without adding fat
“Joey has really helped me out a lot with eating the right foods to gain the weight,” English said. “I still have 7 percent body fat, so it’s not like I’m eating a bunch of fat. I’m pretty much all muscle.”
English played last season at 225 pounds but believes he’s gotten stronger and quicker with the added weight.
“I actually feel I’m moving around better,” English said. “My body still feels fluid like it did before, but I’m stronger now and definitely faster.”
The Gamecocks are looking to replace Jadeveon Clowney, a likely top pick in the upcoming NFL draft who left USC after his junior season, and senior Chaz Sutton. English is listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, ahead of Cedrick Cooper and Gerald Turner.
Steve Spurrier said last week on his call-in show that now is the time for the redshirt sophomore to blossom. Spurrier compared him to former defensive end Devin Taylor because of his tall, lanky frame. Taylor did enough to be drafted by the Detroit Lions, and the hope is that English can have that type of impact over the next three seasons.
“He’s one of the strongest guys on the team,” Spurrier said. “Last year, he didn’t do much, just ran upfield and fell into a tackle or two. He is sort of a lanky player, but he can dead lift. I talked with him the other day. I said, ‘Darius, you’re ready to be a player if you can turn that motor up a little bit. But you have to go, you have to make plays. You can’t just be out there. Maybe it’s time.’ ”
Spurrier does like English’s work ethic.
“You never give up on guys with good attitudes that are trying to be the best they can be,” Spurrier said. “Darius can jump and run a little bit like Devin Taylor. But, he has a chance.”
English played in all 13 games a season ago and finished with 19 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble in the season opener against North Carolina. He understands a lot more is expected out of him.
“My main focus is helping the defense out best I can,” English said. “I’m up to 248 and I hope to add 10 more pounds. That is the ideal weight for me and hopefully I will be able to make more plays.”