Howard Ate His Way to a New Role

Jaye Howard

Jaye Howard showed up in Gainesville weighing 230 pounds with visions of locking down the FOX defensive end. Now four years later, he is over 300 pounds with the quickness to become a pass rusher from the inside. An improved offseason in the weight and film room has the redshirt junior ready to explode on the scene.

"I can use my speed against the guards," Howard said. "I'm much quicker than the guards. I played basketball in high school. My lateral movement and speed is good versus the stiff guards I'm going against."

Jaye Howard wasn't originally excited about the move. He noticed his weight starting to climb when he got to campus, but his heart was on the edge as a pass rusher. When the coaches convinced him he could still be a pass rusher from the inside, Howard accepted the move and took to it like he had played defensive tackle his entire life.

"I used to try and hang around the salad bar when I first got here because they said I was going to move inside," Howard said. "It's grown on naturally and I love it."

Playing inside at defensive tackle is now what he prefers to do. Florida will still use him outside at defensive end in some packages like they did against Alabama in last year's SEC Championship. However, there is no doubt in Howard's mind that he belongs inside.

"In certain packages, they have me playing outside," Howard said. "I'll get to play some end a little bit."

There was a slight adjustment with the move inside. Instead of working against one offensive lineman most of the time, it wasn't rare for him to look up and see two offensive lineman assigned to block him.

"Taking on blocks and double teams constantly (is the toughest part)," Howard said. "When you're outside, you take on basically one-on-one all the time. Now I have to worry about double teams."

Howard's quickness inside was a large asset, but if he couldn't gain the weight to play defensive tackle, it wouldn't matter. That's when he turned to strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti. He put together a diet for Howard that would pack on the pounds and add muscle.

It didn't take long.

The weight poured on thanks to an event infamously referred to as Breakfast Club. Players who need to gain weight show up and stuff their face with breakfast food in an attempt to pack on the pounds.

"They watch you eat," Howard said. "You have to eat."

The hardest part is the coaches and trainers who stalk the room, staring at each player to make sure every bite is consumed. They also stand around the food, instructing each player what they can eat based on each specific diet.

"It's the pressure that's put on you," Howard said. You have to eat a certain amount of plates. They watch you eat and won't let you leave until you eat three plates."

Howard's diet varied, including the omelets he couldn't stand, but there was always one ingredient that stayed consistent.

Pancakes. Lots of them.

Howard consumed more pancakes off one of his three plates than any normal person could eat in a week. He still shakes his head recalling those mornings. But they weren't bad enough to change the way he feels about pancakes.

"I still love them," Howard said with a smile.

Breakfast club is now off limits for Howard. They won't even let him in the door. His 310-pound frame allows him to keep his elite speed from the defensive tackle position, but the coaches don't want him to risk getting bigger and losing it.

"I'm trying to eat (healthier) because they don't want me to get too big," Howard said. "I want to keep my quickness. Right now, I'm watching the food I eat and trying to stay away from fried foods."
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