UW Football | Weights are worth it for two D-linemen
Seattle Times staff reporter
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim likes throwing a little weight around. He only wishes he had a little more of his own to contribute to the task.
When not a starting defensive end for the Huskies football team, he can be found working with the UW track and field squad, where he participates in the shot put and discus.
He's one of two members of UW's defensive line who moonlights as a weight man. Freshman Cameron Elisara also throws in both events.
Both are expected to double-dip this weekend, taking part in a dual meet with the Washington State track team tonight — after practicing with the Huskies football team earlier in the day — before playing in the UW spring football game Saturday.
"They like to compete," said UW defensive line coach Randy Hart, who said he has no problems with his players participating in other sports, a stance shared by head coach Tyrone Willingham.
Te'o-Nesheim also said he's heard that doing the shot and discus helps increase his quickness on the football field, though he mostly participates just because he likes it. He fell into track as a high-school sophomore at Hawaii Prep High School in Kailua, Hawaii, after deciding he wasn't good enough to make the baseball team.
The only possible drawback, if it can be called that, is that Te'o-Nesheim is so active it might be a contributing factor in his struggle to add a little bulk.
"It's a big problem for me, gaining weight," said Te'o-Nesheim, whose best throw of 56 feet, 4 ½ inches in the shot has qualified him for the NCAA West Regionals in May (Elisara has also qualified at 55-2).
Te'o-Nesheim says he weighs about 255 pounds, a number that can fluctuate greatly during the season, though Hart says it is more than adequate for what he's required to do in football.
"I don't know if you have to be a giant," Hart said. "Look at Florida and some of the other guys around the country [who have defensive ends of a similar weight]."
Told his weight seems like it should be enough, Te'o-Nesheim grumbles.
"Yeah, but I look like I'm 230," he said. "I'm pretty lanky. I don't really have the whole quickness thing going for me, so I have to be as big as I can be. And it will help me inside when I go to defensive tackle [a position he plays often when the team goes to its nickel defense]."
UW coaches surely appreciate Te'o-Nesheim's harsh self-critique, but he must have something going for him to have started all 12 games last year as a redshirt freshman and win the team's Lineman of the Year award.
His return, as well as that of two other full-time starters, end Greyson Gunheim and tackle Wilson Afoa, and part-time starter Jordan Reffett is one reason coaches think the line will be the strength of the defense.
"Those guys have played enough football that we better expect to get a few things done up front," Hart said. "It's up to us to set the tempo and cause some chaos in there and create some confusion for the offense and make some plays."
The other reason for optimism is the presence of a number of talented young backups such as Elisara. He has emerged quickly in his first spring after redshirting last fall as a true freshman to become a second-team tackle and work with the first team in some goal-line and other specialty situations.
Elisara, the son of Matt Elisara, former Washington State defensive tackle, says he weighs 280 pounds, about what he did a year ago, "but it's better weight. I'm moving a lot better and I'm stronger now.
"I'm happy because I'm getting the chance to show what I've got and they are giving me the opportunity to compete for a starting job. As long as I seize the opportunity and do something good, then I've got a chance."
Spring-game format set
Willingham said this week he hoped to play as close to a real game as possible for Saturday's Spring Game, and it appears that will be the case. He said the game, which starts at 12:45 p.m. at Husky Stadium and is free, will consist of four 15-minute running quarters, though the clock will stop at appropriate times during the last two minutes. There will also be a 10-minute halftime.
Willingham said he will select the teams, with the tricky part being how to devise two separate secondaries with the Huskies having just eight defensive backs on the roster.
"We'll find a way to kind of massage that and make it work," he said.
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