It’s difficult to take in all of Javon Kinlaw’s 6-foot-6, 303-pound menacing frame and imagine he wasn’t strong enough last season. Apparently, though, that was the case, which is why South Carolina’s coaches urged their junior defensive tackle to be particularly diligent in the weight room this offseason.
“I challenged him in the offseason to get stronger and he’s gotten stronger,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said.
Kinlaw had 20 tackles and three pass breakups last season after transferring from Jones Community College but survived simply on “brute strength,” he said.
“It wasn’t really any weight-room strength,” Kinlaw said.
He worked on that this offseason, sometimes working out twice a day, and pushed his bench-press maximum to “somewhere in the 4s,” he said.
“That was a good number for me,” he said. “I didn’t know how much I benched last year, but I can tell it’s gone up. This has been my first true offseason. It was a good one for me, especially in the weight room. When I got the weight off, I knew I could run, but I knew I wasn’t very strong. Now I feel like I’ve got some strength.”
When Kinlaw arrived on campus last offseason weighing 340 pounds, the Gamecocks did not have enough time to get him both slimmed down and stronger before the season, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. The first step was taking off the pounds, which Kinlaw did with a fairly strict adherence to a specialized nutrition program.
“I used to be able to eat a box of pizza, now I can’t even eat a whole box of pizza,” he said. “It’s definitely a difference, but I’m liking it. I know when I have had enough to eat. Back then I didn’t, but now I do. I don’t really like eating too much. I’m kind of picky a little bit more. I eat a lot more greens.”
He still has one guilty pleasure he’s unwilling to give up, though.
“I’m going to go to Bojangles’ now,” he said. “I’m going to get that Chicken Supreme box. That’s what I like.”
Robinson spoke to the media after South Carolina’s second day of fall practice, which was before the Gamecocks practiced in pads, so he was unable to say how much Kinlaw’s improved strength will mean on the field. However, he’s excited to find out.
“You can look at his body and see how he’s moving and that he’s more explosive,” Robinson said. “We’ll be able to tell when those big boys put that double team on him. A guy that big, you want him to be massive and moving people and doing things like that. He’s done a great job from the nutrition standpoint, the strength standpoint of getting bigger and getting stronger. We’re looking for that to pay dividends come fall.”