MORGANTOWN - That Quinton Spain and Red Lobster each arrived in Morgantown within the same general time frame would seem to have been a match made in heaven.
After all, what self-respecting seafood restaurant wouldn't want as its biggest fan a 370-pound college football player looking for a place to chow down?
"Seafood, crabs, shrimp, you name it,'' Spain said when asked what he would be eating after a recent West Virginia football practice if he had his druthers.
Alas, there was no hefty tab amassed anywhere that evening for Spain, the Mountaineers' massive redshirt freshman offensive tackle. Instead, he ate at the team's training table in the Puskar Center and was even forced to stay away from some of the tastiest items there.
"Now it's fruit, maybe a little bit of whatever they've got [as the main dish],'' Spain said. "As long as it's not fried.''
Now, before anyone gets the idea that Quinton Spain is wasting away to nothing, he still weighs in at a substantial 348 pounds. That's 22 pounds less than when he arrived in Morgantown eight months ago, ready perhaps in his mind to play college football but several dozen pounds over the limit as far as his new coaches were concerned.
That Spain has trimmed down does not exactly make him svelte. In fact, strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph wants at least another eight pounds off before next season begins.
Still, his progress is rather remarkable. And it is beginning to pay off in the form of more practice reps as WVU goes through spring drills. Spain is one of about five offensive tackles who are alternating during team drills.
Granted, to some degree the reps of all the tackles are increased this spring because last year's starters at the positions - Don Barclay and Jeff Braun - are sitting out the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery. But with an entirely new offensive staff in place, there is also a sense of a fresh start for all of the linemen, Spain included.
"There's a 50-50 chance [he will play],'' Spain said. "With a new offensive coordinator, everybody's got the same shot. [With the old staff] I'd still be behind. I've got a senior in front of me and he played last year.''
That Spain did not get a chance to play last year as a true freshman isn't surprising. Even though West Virginia had some serious issues with its offensive line play, Spain was simply too big and out of shape to make a difference, despite his high profile as a recruit. It didn't help, either, that he had NCAA Clearinghouse issues and had to miss the first few weeks of August drills.