As of now, Temple’s offensive line starters are Jovahn Fair and Vincent Picozzi at guard, Matt Hennessy at center, and James McHale and Jaelin Robinson at tackle, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said last week.
Patenaude stressed that there is a long way to go, but these five are lining up with the first team. He also praised the play of Darian Bryant, a redshirt sophomore from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
“The best development has been with Darian Bryant, who had done an unbelievable job, reformed his body, lost a bunch of weight, and is doing great,” Patenaude said. “He is moving really well, is a big, athletic guy.”
Bryant is listed at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, but he says he is down to 311 and feels much better at a lighter weight.
Temple OL Darian Bryant has lost nearly 25 pounds in the offseason and talks about the benefit of playing at a reduced weight pic.twitter.com/ukKHpxX7wt
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) March 20, 2018
“I feel great,” Bryant said after Tuesday’s spring practice. “I know it is just the beginning, and I have a lot more work to do.”
He’s already done his share of work just getting ready for spring practice.
“We have a saying in our room, that your body is your money, and Darian has done a really good job of controlling his weight,” offensive line coach Chris Wiesehan said. “He was 335 in December and is now 311.”
Last season, as a redshirt freshman, Bryant didn’t see any action, and he acknowledged that was difficult, but also he tried to learn from the experience.
“Being on the sidelines, seeing guys on the field, you want to be out there,” he said. “It was a time for me to develop mentally and physically and I had to stack my days, day by day and hope my time would come.”
Even though Bryant has been working with the second unit, his time will likely come this season. Wiesehan says he would like to have an expanded rotation.
“We are looking to play seven to eight guys [on the offensive line] a game,” Wiesehan said.
So Bryant’s development is key.
During the portion of practice the media watched, Bryant was at right tackle, but Wiesehan wants all of his linemen to be versatile. Most of them play multiple positions. Bryant has also spent time at right guard.
Linemen often take longer to develop, and Wiesehan says that Bryant, while not having appeared in a game, has improved dramatically.
“There is more awareness, more understanding, more growth above the neck,” he said.
Last year, the offensive line suffered numerous injuries, and developing depth is one of Wiesehan’s priorities. Bryant can be a key player as a starter or reserve.
By dropping the weight, Bryant has shown he is willing to do what it takes to get in the rotation.
His biggest sacrifice?
“I am a Philly guy and love cheesesteaks and had to cut that out,” he said, appearing almost sad at the thought.
He also took up boxing, which he said helps with his hand-eye coordination.
Boxing is also symbolic for Bryant, who is fighting for a place in the rotation and will go to great lengths to earn a spot.