Chris McNeil Interview:
Coach Campbell said you have 16% body fat, which is extremely good for an offensive lineman. Are you trying to gain additional weight while maintaining that body fat percentage?
"I play center and guard, so I have to be mobile for both positions. What I'm trying to do is gain a little more weight but not too much, probably get up to the 293 to 294 range. I'm doing a lot of speed work to cut out my body fat. I changed my diet. I don't eat a lot of fried foods. I can definitely see a huge difference as far as my performance is concerned."
When did you change your diet?
"When I go home during the summer, I always change my diet. During the spring, you can eat different foods, but during the summertime, you are trying to gain as much muscle and get as fast as you can. Because of that, you don't want to have a bunch of junk in your body."
How much did you weigh at the end of the spring?
"When I left at the end of spring training, I had lost some weight and probably weighed about 275. I am probably back up to about 290 now."
When did you find out that you had 16% body fat, back in the spring or recently?
"That was recently. When I first came here, I was 285 and 24% body fat. Now, I'm 290 and 16%."
What do you ultimately want to be?
"I want to gain 3 or 4 more pounds and lose 2% more body fat."
You are becoming a legend in the weight room. What are your lifts?
"During the spring, right before the Iron Dawg testing, my squat was probably around 600 and the bench was probably 500. In the incline, I was probably around 400 pounds."
Do you have any goals you are still trying to achieve in the weight room?
"When I came here, I wanted to squat 600 and bench press 500 before I left. Now, I have to move my goals up. I have always enjoyed working out even when I was in high school. My major is Fitness Management so I'm really interested in diet and things like that."
What have you seen in this team that makes you believe this team will be better than the last two years? I heard the players say last year everything was great and we would be better but we still had another three-win season. Why do you think this year will be different?
"Last year, everybody said we were all fired up, but me personally, I didn't see it. Everybody was talking, but it was just a lot of talk. This year, we aren't saying a whole lot. We are just staying to ourselves. The new coaches are keeping in a lot of contact with us, making sure everybody is staying on the right track. There is a lot more hands-on things going on. I think a lot of the off the field things have changed a lot. The coaches aren't as lenient as far as the off the field things. They are more disciplined."
Kenny Kern said the coaches are requiring much more discipline this year.
"Yes, an example of that is the locker room. We are getting a renovation of the lockers. They are re-staining all the lockers. One day, we left a couple of towels on the floor. Coach Hallman walked in and saw that. He called the team together and told us he would see us the next morning at 6 o'clock. He told us that 'it didn't seem like that big of a deal, but that is your home in there. You are in there probably 8 hours a day in the fall. If you are not going to take care of your locker, how are you going to take care of each other'. It's all about the discipline. It's the little things that matter. You can't overlook the little things."
It sounds like it's not just discipline but pride as well.
"Yes, having pride in what you are doing. That's one thing about the guys who played here back when they went to the SEC Championship (game), they took pride in what they had up here. I remember when I came up here when I was in high school, those players took pride in what they had up here."
Are most of the offensive linemen back in for the first summer session?
"All of us are here except for James Cochran. Right now, twice a week, we go out and work on our own. We work on offensive line work. It is a volunteer type deal.
"Things are different. We were all young last year, so this year it's not like we are going to get thrown in the fire."
Who seems to be the leader on the offensive line this year?
"On the offensive line, I would have to say Brad Weathers. He doesn't say a lot, but he leads by example. He works extremely hard. Everybody looks at Brad Weathers and sees how hard he is working. Actions speak louder than words."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org