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White tackles new challenge for ISU football
NORMAL – Cody White has added a lot more than another digit to his uniform number.
While switching from No. 5 to 56, the Illinois State football player has packed on 30 pounds in the past few months to facilitate his move from tight end to offensive tackle.
“We talked about it a few times and came to the conclusion it was probably best for the team. I think it’s a good move for me, too,” White said Friday after the second of ISU’s spring practice sessions. “I really enjoyed playing tight end, but I’m happy where I’m at.”
The 6-foot-5 White caught 16 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown last season. Listed at 250 pounds last fall, White finished the season around 260.
“He didn’t want to eat himself out of the tight end position,” ISU strength and conditioning coach Rohrk Cutchlow said. “He spent a lot of time eating salads in the offseason. He was restricting calories when he didn’t need to restrict calories.”
When the decision was made to move to tackle, White began eating more along with an intense offseason weightlifting program. White soared above 300 pounds earlier this year and has since dropped back to 290.
“I’ve always been a big kid. To be 260, everything I thought I wanted I cut in half,” White said. “I’ve been getting to the dining center and getting some good meals in me. I could really cut loose.”
While the quantity of White’s food intake went up, he tried to watch the quality. He has avoided fast food but is capable of putting away three or four chicken breasts in a sitting.
“I don’t want to get too heavy, but it’s natural for my body to be this big,” he said. “I didn’t have to try that hard.”
ISU coach Brock Spack saw a potential tackle in White last season, but left him at tight end out of necessity. With additional depth at the position, the switch was made.
“He looks very natural. He’s very athletic for a tackle,” said Spack. “You move 36 inches closer to the ball and all of sudden you become a great athlete.”
First-year Redbird offensive line coach George Barnett said White’s switch has gone smoother than he expected thus far.
“I figured he would be awkward for a few days, but it hasn’t been as much as I thought,” said Barnett. “That’s a heckuva transition coming inside. I think he’s handling it well.”
White, who will battle returning tackles Chris Riley and Dane Zumbahlen for playing time, admits he has a lot to learn.
“It’s still football. But there are little technique things I’m going to have to get used to, a lot of muscle memory stuff,” White said. “Spring is going to be tough, but I can’t get frustrated. I have to keep grinding and get all these things down.”
Zumbahlen made the switch from tight end to tackle two seasons ago.
“We’ve been talking. He said ‘keep your head up and don’t get down on yourself,’ ” said White. “You’re going to have up days and down days learning a new position.”
Cutchlow believes White has the physical attributes to be successful at tackle.
“All the things I can’t teach him he came with – a great frame, great DNA, great feet, good athleticism and a big brain - he’s still got,” said Cutchlow. “We took what he’s got and put more muscle and pounds on it.”