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UConn football looks to get healthier on and off the gridiron.

POSTED March 30, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: There is apparently a good reason why the UConn Husky football team just seems to have a bit more kick in their step this spring practice season.

They are getting healthier, losing weight and dropping body fat by the bushel.

In some cases, they're gaining weight while dropping their body fat, adding pure muscle.

For a team that finished 3-9 a year ago and in some cases was just physically outplayed by their opponents, this can only lead to good things.

New head coach Bob Diaco wasted little time. After getting the job in December, he put in place a system designed to help his athletes perform at their best, on and off the field and it started with blood work.

Kind of a ‘look under the hood’ approach to see just what the players were putting into their bodies.

“We’ve done scientific evaluations to figure out what their deficiencies are from a vitamin and mineral standpoint, through blood panels and blood work,” Diaco said. “So now we can help them get stronger.”

When Diaco joined the team, he hired renowned strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis who is making a difference in a big way early on.

“Let’s say a normal Vitamin D count for a player is 50. We had one player, one, near that,” Diaco said. “Our kicker Bobby Puloy was at 49. Most of the guys where down in the teens. That’s a huge thing for a young man not to have that in his body.”

Kind of like putting regular gas or water in a Ferrari was how the coach described it.

The menu for what the players throw into their bodies has changed as well.

UConn sports nutritionist Dr. Nancy Rodriguez produced a new menu that will benefit each player and might even make a reporter or two drop a few more good things in their gut during the Tuesday luncheons.

It is the classic ‘body is a temple’ approach. Good stuff in, more energy out and the players are loving the results.

Tailback Max DeLorenzo, who had a very good stretch at the end of the 2013 campaign that saw the Huskies win their last three games, has been becoming leaner and stronger since returning to school in late January.

“When I came back, my body fat index was 18,” Delorenzo said. “Three weeks later it was 16 and the last one I did was 12.”

That’s some fast work and work that will undoubtedly pay dividends for a downhill runner like DeLorenzo.

“We have more energy at the end of practice now, when in the past guys may have been slowing down towards the end,” the former Berlin High School star said. “I think it’s going to help the whole team in a good way this season.”

Senior defensive lineman B.J. McBryde dropped nearly 15 pounds and saw his number drop from 29 to 22 in short order, while fellow senior Byron Jones is down nearly five percent so far this spring.

The coach is happy with the progress of his team as they make the turn to the back side of this spring practice campaign. It caps off with their Spring Game, scheduled for April 12 at Rentschler Field.

“If you look at the big picture, we all just met a few minutes ago,” Diaco said. “I am very happy with the progress so far.”

The regular season kicks off on Friday, August 29 when BYU comes to East Hartford.

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