Unlike most college students, Anthony Zettel is not concerned about overeating.
The rising redshirt junior is making the transition back to defensive tackle, and he could use a few more calories — a couple thousand a day, actually.
The move to the inside required him to gain weight, and he explained in a teleconference Thursday the changes in his diet he had to undergo to commit to the change. Instead of simply eating more food, Zettel said he is spreading out his calorie intake.
“You can't just eat more. You can't eat three times a day like I used to,” Zettel said. “You have to eat about five, six times a day, a little more balanced out diet.”
Trying to keep his increased diet healthy, he said there are protein shakes and other snacks at Penn State’s football facility to grab. That’s not to say he’s always craving them, though.
“Basically, you do have to force yourself to eat even though you're not hungry,” the West Branch, Mich., native said.
Zettel has been committing to the process, though. He has to, for a position that relies on leverage to get past blockers.
The 6-foot-4 Zettel said he is up to about 279 pounds after hovering around 262 when Dwight Galt came to Penn State. With the help of the Nittany Lions’ director of performance enhancement, Zettel said he has not just added pounds but muscle mass, too, on his way to his target weight of 285 pounds.
At that weight, Zettel still looks to utilize the speed that allowed him to rack up four sacks — second on the team — in 12 appearances but just two starts in 2013.
Planning to play the three-technique, where he’ll attempt to get around the outside of guards to rush the quarterback, Zettel said he is expecting one-on-one blocking situations. That will continue to allow him use his speed — which he noted he thought was even quicker with the work of Galt — to his advantage, rather than if he’d have to power through a double-team block.
“I don't have the D-end, like the long, long arms and stuff. And I'm quicker, and I'm better in short space,” he said. “So in the future, I knew the three-technique inside was my best option.”
As for being in line for a consistent starting role, Zettel said he has goals he’ll keep private. But he appeared just as prepared for that responsibility, thanks in part to his offseason.
“But being a starter, I feel a lot more confident in myself,” Zettel said. “Plus, coaches feel more confident in me...I can go out and just play football. Being a backup, it wasn't a bad thing. I felt like I contributed a decent amount to the team and I wasn't ready to start. But now I feel like I am, so I'm excited."
Eric Shultz can be reached at email@example.com or (814) 865-1828. Follow him on Twitter at @Shultz_Eric.