Jamil Douglas has been eating his Wheaties.
The redshirt junior offensive lineman is listed on the ASU roster as 6 feet, 4 inches and 303 pounds. He looks a lot bigger than that when standing next to him.
Douglas said there are two main reasons for his increase in size. He gave credit to director of strength and conditioning, Shawn Griswold.
And Douglas is just eating better. His most important new habit, eating breakfast every day, is something that he didn’t do in the past.
Douglas’s size increase comes at the right time. During spring practices, he has switched positions from left guard to right tackle.
Coming into ASU, he always thought about playing the tackle position.
“Of course everyone likes the left tackle spot, because that’s the blind side of the quarterback,” Douglas said. “I’ve always liked tackle. I liked guard also, but I don’t have a problem playing tackle.”
Coaches suggested the move to Douglas during the off-season.
He knew if he was going to play this new position he had to get stronger and larger in the off-season.
More importantly, he needed to improve his skills to block the end.
“Just thinking about playing right tackle, it made me have to work harder just, so I know I’m able to be quicker on the field,” Douglas said.
It is interesting Douglas wants to work on his quickness. Douglas is especially known around the team for having light feet.
“We like his athleticism, and he’s gotten better and better,” coach Todd Graham said. “It is so important in this league to be really solid at that tackle position, because you are going to play against some great defensive ends.”
Last season, Douglas showed he is the most athletic offensive lineman on the team. For a player his size, he can make moves that don’t seem possible.
This makes the transition from guard to tackle a little bit easier. At the tackle position, Douglas will face defensive ends that might weigh less than the defensive tackles on the inside but will be twice as fast.
Douglas said his skills give him confidence on the edge.
“Just me knowing that I’m athletic and that I hang with guys that are speed rushers like Carl Bradford,” Douglas said. “It just helps me mentally know that I’m able to do those type of things.”
About midway through each practice, the offensive and defensive linemen meet up and compete in a one-on-one pass rush drill. When they match up, Douglas and redshirt junior linebacker Carl Bradford always seem to find each other.
Douglas and Bradford are actually roommates. Even though they are good friends off of the field, it is all business in the drill.
Bradford represents a difficult challenge for any offensive tackle, because he is so explosive off the ball. When the two face off, it is one the best displays of speed during the practice.
Douglas’s athleticism helps him keep up with Bradford. But Bradford said Douglas’s strength has helped him transition to tackle as well.
“He’s a strong man,” Bradford said. “He gives you one punch, and you’ll fly across the formation. But he is very athletic for a tackle.”
The tackle position comes with the responsibility of holding down the edge and blocking athletic ends like Bradford. It also comes with a different responsibility.
The tackle has to be consistent throughout the season. The quarterbacks and running backs put a lot of trust in him to protect them.
Douglas is in his fourth year at ASU and is a returning starter. He said he is ready for the responsibility.
“I’m replacing somebody, somebody that played last year,” Douglas said. “So when we step on the field, I have to be in that position and know that I can play that position, because the quarterbacks and the running backs are depending on me to make those blocks.”
Helping Douglas make the transition is returning starting left tackle redshirt senior Evan Finkenberg. Finkenberg has been a starter for three seasons and is the leader of the unit.
Douglas has been working extra with Finkenberg after practice to improve his tackle technique.
It is still early in the spring, and the starting offensive line positions are still fluid. So far, Finkenberg is impressed with what he has seen from Douglas and wouldn’t be surprised if he starts at tackle in the fall.
“It’s a lot of pressure to move positions each year,” Finkenberg said. “But he has really stepped up to the plate so far and he’s doing a great job so far, so I think he is going to do a good job in the season.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter at @AZSportsHUB