Quinton Spain is a shadow of his former self.
At 348 pounds, however, do not worry that the West Virginia University tackle might die of malnutrition or suffer a vitamin deficiency, but the lad is really working hard on his weight.
You might remember hearing of him last year when he came out of high school in Virginia as the biggest addition to the WVU campus since they built Mountaineer Field. The plans were to redshirt him, if they could find one his size.
I don’t want to say he’s big, but they almost had to list him as left tackle … and left guard. A defensive end could make a fortune if they would pay him just 50 cents a mile to try and go around him all game rushing the quarterback.
As the late, great Los Angeles columnist Jim Murray once wrote about the 6-foot, 7-inch baseball player Frank Howard, Spain is “so big he wasn’t born, he was founded.”
And that’s now, at that svelte 348 pounds.
See, last August, before that redshirt season, Spain showed up showed up with 370 pounds rather amply over his 6-foot, 5-inch frame. He was so big then that when he smiled his dimples had dimples.
The man didn’t have a waist. He had a circumference.
“I was at home. I wasn’t working out. All I did was eat,” he said after practice on Friday.
And you can imagine, there wasn’t any orders for “small fries” with that triple Whopper.
The Mountaineers were somewhat aghast when they saw him, weigh in at more than double the weight of running back Tavon Austin, so they turned a nutritionist on him.
“I talked to my nutrition lady and she told me I had to work out more and eat less,” he said. “She told me no fried food. Eat lite. Don’t drink soda and juice, drink water and milk.”
It was a good thing that didn’t get out or the stock in Coke and Minute Maid would have crashed immediately.
Spain wanted to play, though, and was diligent in his effort to lose weight.
“It was hard to adjust to at first, but if I want to play I have to do it,” he said.
As hard as it is to imagine, Spain was not always the biggest kid on the block. In fact, when you ask him about it, a warm smile crosses his face.
“You won’t believe it. I played running back, quarterback when I was a little kid,” he said. “I played skill positions. Then, when I got to middle school, I played tight end and D-end. At high school I started playing offensive line.”
Rex Harrison might have put it this way: “The gain in Spain caused defensive linemen pain.”
Kids sometimes are mocked when they are different from their peers, but Spain says there wasn’t any time where he had to police anyone’s attitude toward him.
“I’m not a fighter. I stay to myself most of the time,” he said.
Now, though, he is built along the lines of Nate Newton, once of the Dallas Cowboys, and his sights on the NFL. But first there’s the matter of winning a job at West Virginia.
Last year was difficult on him. An NCAA Clearing House issue delayed his start at practice.
“It was rough, coming in late. I had to catch up on a lot of things. When I was playing scout team, I wasn’t meeting with the regular team so I lost all that,” he said.
But, as he became accustomed to what he was doing and began dropping some of the 40 pounds he had gained since high school, he began displaying the strength and surprising speed and agility that he has.
He remains behind last year’s starter, Don Barclay, but is benefitting from getting reps as Barclay misses spring as his surgically repaired shoulder heals.
“Now, with the new people in here, it’s 50-50. Anyone can win a starting spot,” he said.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quinton Spain is a shadow of his former self.
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