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Penn State Football: Zettel Eating Up Position Change

by on April 10, 2014 1:00 PM

Anthony Zettel was listed at roughly 258 pounds last season as a defensive end. A nice combination of speed and size that made him plenty capable of getting into the backfield and disrupting the play.

Now Zettel has moved inside to defensive tackle, filling the void of former Nittany Lion and NFL hopeful DaQuan Jones. It's a position that still requires speed but it requires a lot more size.

"Basically when Coach Galt got here I was about 262, and I just lifted a lot of heavy weights, put on muscle mass because I knew where I wanted to go," Zettel said of the position change. "Been eating a lot more consistent, trying to eat five times a day. The weight's a big thing. I'm about 279 now, almost 280."

Five times a day. That's a lot of food.

"I'm trying to eat more healthy. As a D-end I never ate as much as I should have been for the calories," Zettel said. "We work out so much, I was only replenishing what I burned off. Lately I've been adding a couple thousand calories each day. That's what the gained weight is. Trying to still put good foods in my body but I'm not on a crazy specific thing. It's tough. Basically I learned you can't eat three times a day like I used to. You have to eat five six times a day. The small increments."

Dieting isn't the only thing Zettel has had to change. Defensive tackle is different kind of position than defensive end, reads are different, the blocking schemes by the offensive line affect a tackle differently than an end. But Zettel is enjoying the challenge, and in many ways what he is doing now is easier than what he was so successful at last year.

"As a three-tech you have a lot of one-on-one blocks; the nose (tackle) takes most of double teams," Zettel says of his new position. "As an end the running back can chip you a lot of times. Especially with the ends we still have with us, I think i'll get a lot of one-on-ones, which is where the quickness and takeoff really helps."

It may seem like a simple change, and it is, but what it also represents is an ability for James Franklin and his staff to get their best players on the field. Zettel very well may have seen his fair share of reps at defensive end this year, but now he's on the field the same time as Deion Barnes and CJ Olaniyan, two players that would have eaten into his playing time otherwise.

The change was a necessary one to fill gaps on the roster, but if Zettel thrives on the interior of the line as much as he began to on the outside, the Nittany Lions' defensive front is looking mighty fine heading into 2014.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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April 10, 2014 12:07 PM
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