KENT: For most people, weight is much tougher to lose than to gain.
Gaining weight? How hard can it be? Just eat a steady diet of fast-food meals and pack on the pounds.
But Phil Huff is here to tell anyone who’ll listen that it simply is not as easy as that. At least not for a football player with a 6-foot-3 frame who needs to maintain his agility.
“Gaining 60 pounds wasn’t easy,” said Huff, who has had perhaps the biggest challenge in Kent State’s spring camp — taking over the center position for departed stalwart Chris Anzevino.
“As a freshman, I put on 15 [pounds] in my first camp right away by eating everything I could,” he said. “I like to go to Subway. And Asian [food] has all the rice with the [carbohydrates]. But it’s hard, because as you get bigger, it’s hard to keep your speed up. Now that I’m finally up there, I’m really just trying to eat the good stuff and firm up. You don’t want to get just straight fat.”
A junior from Hilliard (a northwest suburb of Columbus), Huff came to Kent State as a 235-pound freshman. Undersized and inexperienced, he played in just two games as a reserve.
Last season, as he noticeably began to put on weight — moreso by lifting than eating — he appeared in four games, starting two at left guard.
When coach Darrell Hazell challenged Huff to take over for Anzevino, it was a big request with a big role in determining the team’s future success.
“Our very first team meeting in the offseason, I called him out,” Hazell said. “Not in a bad way. But I said, ‘Phil, you need to be a bigger guy for us,’ and for him to be able to hold up inside. At the time, he was probably 265 [pounds].
“To his credit, he worked his tail off with [strength and conditioning coach] Doug Davis. Phil’s done an unbelievable job with the line calls and getting people going in the right direction. Center is such a critical position; he’s a guy who touches the ball every single play. He’s not only smart, but now he’s tough and physically able to get the things we need done.”
When spring camp started at the beginning of April, Huff had bulked up to a stout 295 pounds and looked liked a center. But there still was his technique to perfect.
“Working my hands, that’s the biggest thing for me,” Huff said. “I tend to lean over too much, which causes me to miss or fall. I need to keep my weight back and use my hands to position myself and stay square.”
Although he’s still on a learning curve, Huff has gained the admiration of his teammates as the Flashes’ camp winds down to Saturday’s spring game finale. Wednesday, he was the first player selected in the team’s draft that split the Flashes into Blue and Gold teams for Saturday’s game.
“They took Huff first, which I thought was pretty neat,” Hazell said. “It says a lot to how far he’s come in the last eight months.”
To Blue Team captain and quarterback Spencer Keith, pegging Huff No. 1 overall was a no-brainer.
“I’m comfortable with Huff under center,” he said. “And the snap’s the main thing to get the fight going, so I thought that was the utmost important pick.”
The sentiment was not lost on Huff.
“Obviously Chris was a monster and I was like his protege coming in my freshman year,” Huff said. “He coached me up best he could while he was here.”
Even though Anzevino is now working out on his own in hopes of being selected next week in the NFL Draft, he’s only a phone call or flip of the switch away when Huff needs him.
“We’ll talk on the phone here and there, but I’m still using his film to work on my technique,” Huff said. “Whenever I need to, I just go in and turn it on. Chris was so good at the position, I’m still learning a lot from him.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Flashes blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.