ATHENS -- Christian Robinson had gone about three weeks, he estimated, without eating any fried foods. One day, however, the Georgia linebacker was in a rush and broke down and got some French fries at a campus diner.
He paid for it later.
“I went to workouts, and I started getting sick,” Robinson said Thursday, as he discussed the Georgia football team’s newly installed nutrition program. “I really have noticed it. I’ve really changed the way I eat.”
When the Bulldogs begin spring practice Thursday, they say they will be bigger, stronger and faster. At least that’s the goal of the team’s overhauled offseason conditioning program.
Joe Tereshinski became the new strength and conditioning coordinator after the team’s first losing season in 14 years. During the ensuing two months, he has changed the players approach to workouts -- including an elimination of mat drills -- and to eating.
The players say the results are already showing, at least in the workouts. And the coaches say several players have already put on weight and in a good way.
“I think guys are gonna be excited to see what their new bodies can do when they get out there,” head coach Mark Richt said.
During Richt’s first 10 years at Georgia, the mat drills were a staple of the offseason program. Eliminating them was mainly the decision of Tereshinki, whose focus has turned to weight-lifting and reps.
But the team also instituted a rigid nutrition program. How strict is it? During the week, players are told to send in photos of three meals per day and can only eat once it’s approved. It’s similar to when the staff does class attendance checks.
“If they don’t like what you have on your plate, you kind of just have to throw it away and go get something a little healthy,” receiver Tavarres King said.
One casualty was the hot wings from campus diners, which are popular among some players.
Cornerback Brandon Boykin said he already has felt the benefit of the healthier eating. His workout endurance has been better, and he attributes that in large part to nutrition.
“The first week people kind of didn’t know what to expect. But now you might be away by yourself, and you’ve got a chance to eat McDonald’s, and you don’t do it,” Boykin said. “Because you’re dedicated to your body, and I think people are really buying into it right now.”
All of this sounds great, obviously, but will mean little if it doesn’t translate to the field. But the players say there’s an on-field goal for the new conditioning program, and it doesn’t have to do with making the players look better in workouts.
Last year Georgia was outscored by opponents in just one quarter: the fourth. The Bulldogs also lost their lone overtime game, against Florida.
“Through these workouts, we’ll definitely be a stronger fourth-quarter team,” Robinson said. “If you look at last year, we really couldn’t finish in the fourth quarter. And I feel like these workouts will eliminate that fourth-quarter struggle. I definitely think they’re gonna benefit us for endurance.”