The common knock on UCLA heading into the 2011 season was how thin the Bruins are on the offensive line.
Greg Capella is taking that to heart. And his heart is thanking him for it, although his tastebuds probably want to have a word or two with the UCLA sophomore.
Capella, who has run with the first-team offensive line at strong side guard the past two days while playing second-team center, found himself heavier than he’s ever been last winter and set out to not only change his body, but potentially his prospects at UCLA.
Now he’s down from 335 to 295 and he said he’s feeling better than ever.
“I just didn’t like the way I was moving, the way I looked,” Capella said. “I was up to 335 pounds going into last winter, and I just decided that I didn’t want to do that anymore. I watched what I ate, I trained my hardest, and I got down to where I actually had to gain weight for the first time in my life.”
Switching from his favorite food – from Fat Sal’s “Fat Jerry” to the less-cheesestick-and-chicken-tender-filled “Glorious Grilled Chicken” sandwich – helped. Working with strength and conditioning coach Mike Linn just hurt.
But it worked for Capella, and it could work out beautifully for Rick Neuheisel and Bob Palcic.
With projected starting tackle Jeff Baca sidelined with a broken ankle until late September at the earliest and Sean Sheller sliding over from guard, the Bruins have a big gap at guard. Capella, who didn’t play center until college and said that the problems with the quarterback-center exchange were difficult to overcome, now figures into the guard equation along with redshirt freshman Wade Yandall and Citrus College transfer Albert Cid.
Capella is relishing going back to his roots, particularly with regards to pulling, a guard’s best chance to get out and run.
“It’s all about athleticism,” Neuheisel said. “There are a lot of big men who can move. But if your girth is keeping you from being the athlete you need to be to compete, you need to slim down.”
Neuheisel gave credit to Capella for first resolving to change his body, and then following through.
“When you get into a position that you’re seeing some results with that hard work, it encourages you to do more,” Neuheisel said. “He’s really worked his butt off to get himself in great shape. He’s a mutt.”