Tyler Stutzman looked slim and trim as he walked through the Southern Miss athletic center early this week.
That would be good for most of us, but for an offensive lineman on the football team — well, where’s the beef?
“I got sick about a week before camp and missed the majority of camp, the first two or three weeks,” said Stutzman, a 6-foot-6 redshirt senior who wants to be heavier. “I had ulcerative esophagitis, basically like an ulcer in my esophagus. I couldn’t eat or drink anything. I’d get IVs just about every other day.”
For a young man who is supposed to be in the best physical shape of his life, for someone who should be going through tortuous two-a-days with the temperature in the 90s, it couldn’t be done. Stutzman, who played at McComb’s Parklane Academy and Southwest Mississippi Community College, was put on the shelf until the problem could be corrected.
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“I was up around 280, 285 (pounds),” he said. “I went down to about 250 at one point. I’m about 265, 270 now. Getting my weight back up is the biggest thing right now. That’s what I’m focusing on.”
He’s actually been focusing on that for a few weeks now. This offensive lineman’s diet has no bounds.
What does he eat? “Everything!”
“Everything you can,” Stutzman said. “The doctor told me to drink a lot of Boost. (Assistant athletic director/Sports Medicine Todd McCall) had an account set up where I could go by Smoothie King. He gives me as many smoothies as I want during camp. That was good for me.”
Slim or not, Stutzman started at right guard last week against Southern University.
“Getting back in shape was the toughest part, especially back during camp when it was super hot and I hadn’t been working out or doing anything,” he said. “I’m close to 90-95 percent, simply because I can’t gain the weight back. If I was back at 280, I’d say I would be 100 percent.
“It felt great (getting back in action). Last week I had been going at right guard and center, so I’ve been getting double reps.”
Against Southern, the USM offense gained 477 yards, 197 on the ground and 280 through the air. So there’s no doubt Stutzman and the offensive line graded well.
“I was really impressed with him Saturday,” Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “The right guard deal with Stutz and Jimmie Terry (both playing a lot) played out well. Both of those guys graded out high. We got a lot of production out of both of those guys.”
That was different from six weeks ago, when Stutzman was so skinny.
“In camp, I told him I need to put you at receiver,” Dawson said. “He was losing weight by the day.”
Now, it’s a different story. Slim, not skinny. Starting. And playing well.