Notebook: Howard large and in charge at defensive tackle


Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.

Jaye Howard has made the ultimate transformation to get where he is on Florida's roster.

The 310-pound junior defensive tackle arrived in Gainesville three years ago with a slender defensive end's physique at 225 pounds. Howard's days as a defensive end were short-lived at Florida once the staff decided he'd be better suited inside.

To make the move, Howard had to get his weight up. Howard's job was to become a vacuum around food.

“I used to try to hang around the salad bar when I first got here because they said I was moving inside,” Howard said Wednesday.

Howard had to gain so much weight so fast that he was put into strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti's “Breakfast Club,” which consists of a rigorous eating plan where participants are watched by coaches and forbidden to leave the training table until their required portion of food is finished.

For two years, Howard had to finish three plates overflowing with food before he could stop. In that time, he developed an extreme appetite for pancakes and hatred for omelets.

Bigger and much fuller, Howard played in 12 games in 2009 and recorded 29 tackles, including 10 against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. With injuries to seniors Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders, Howard moved to the top of the defensive tackle rotation this spring and carried that title through Florida's training camp.

Howard enters Saturday's opener against Miami (Ohio) starting next to nose guard Omar Hunter.

New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said he has been impressed with Howard's work ethic since he arrived this spring. Austin wasn't sure of what transpired in Howard's past, but he said he's more comfortable trusting him on the field this fall.

“I'm not sure what he did in the past, but from what I hear, he's working better (on the practice field),” Austin said.

With his weight managed, Howard said he still has his end speed. He said he's faster than guards he opposes and prefers playing inside because he likes tangling with the constant double-teams he sees.

“I love it more,” he said. “I like contact, so the inside is better.”

To keep his speed up, Howard said he's off the fried foods and out of the “Breakfast Club.” He's eating healthier, but his fondness for pancakes hasn't left him. That's a part of his old lifestyle he won't quit.

“I love them,” he said. “I try to hit up Peach Valley as much as I can.”

Meyer satisfied

Now that two-a-days are done and most of the nagging injuries have vanished, Florida coach Urban Meyer said during the weekly SEC conference call he's happy with what he's seeing from his team.

Not ready to deem it great, Meyer said he admires his team for getting through one of the toughest training camps he's put a team through.

“It's not just survival,” Meyer said of training camp. “It's let's develop a team.”

Meyer first started getting positive glimpses of what he thinks his team might look like once the veterans who battled injuries returned. The vets have also helped bring his team closer, Meyer said.

“When those guys are out, it's just a lot of young puppies out there,” he said.

Quotable

Senior receiver Carl Moore on his goal this year: “I wanna win a championship. I'm thinking about winning. I don't want to lose. It's my senior year, I'm trying to have us go out, win every game.”

Etc.

Meyer said Wednesday that Jeremy Brown and Moses Jenkins are listed as co-starters at the second cornerback spot. Austin said the starter will be a game-time decision. ... Redshirt sophomore Earl Okine has moved back to defensive end from tight end, the team announced. ... Junior Chris Rainey is up to 180 pounds and in his best shape, Meyer said. “He has to give us the home run shot,” he said.

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