Eat Right, Block Right

By Kyle Rowland on August 9, 2013 at 9:30a
Ed Warriner has his Ohio State offensive line eating right, thanks to a team nutritionist and other services.

Urban Meyer said the biggest hire he made at Ohio State was that of strength coach Mickey Marotti. Once Marotti was onboard, he quickly pushed to make another momentous hire: a dietician.

Sarah Wick began working with other varsity sports at Ohio State in 2003, but never in a full-time capacity with the football program. It didn’t take long for Wick to jump at the opportunity to work alongside Marotti.

“The amount of energy that Mickey wanted to put into the nutrition program, as a dietician you’re like, ‘Yeaaaa,” Wick told Eleven Warriors. 

The first traces of the culture change came when a handful of offensive linemen missed Meyer’s first team meeting. Weeks later multiple linemen were absent from another meeting. By then, Marotti – and every other staff member – had seen enough.

There were going to be changes regardless of what the players wanted. It was adapt or move on. The linemen stayed. Center Corey Linlsey called it a “warning sign.”

The agenda included several bullet points, the first being body types. The top concern was the size of offensive linemen. To keep pace in Meyer’s high-octane offense, linemen must be fit and swift, not the typical “big uglies” seen in the Midwest. It’s not often you want linemen to get smaller.  

So Marotti and Wick went to work. When the sun rose, players were already taking part in Marotti’s boot camp. When they weren’t working out, Wick was busy offering a steady diet of salad instead of French fries. The months-long regimen built up endurance during adverse situations.

“From a nutritional standpoint, we worked as a team,” Wick said. “Everyone promoted nutrition and strength and conditioning. (The players) were getting it from all angles. It made it a lot easier, and I think that is huge when it’s in an environment like football.

“Everyone is encouraging becoming the best athlete possible. Nothing is easy. They’re responsible for putting whatever they put in their mouth. But they were very motivated and had a lot of support. You still have to put in the work.”

Given the results, labeling the process as work is an understatement. When their personal torture concluded, more than 500 pounds of fat were shed with 500 pounds of muscle being added. The offensive line alone was responsible for nearly 150 pounds of lost fat.

The bodies of 1980s and 90s era linemen had disappeared. And the newfound slimness motivated players and zapped the laziness gene. Second halves became winning time instead of catch-your-breath time. There was an abundance of energy. Ohio State outscored its opponents 222-147 in the second half and overtime last season, en route to a 12-0 record.

It was a revolutionary step for the Buckeyes. Few teams in college football have dieticians and nutritionists on staff. At Ohio State, the program is individualized to tailor to a player’s needs. They receive a detailed plan that includes losing weight, adding muscle or sometimes both. It all depends on the player.

“From Day 1, nutrition became extremely important,” Wick said. “If they want to play, they know there’s a place they have to be. More than anything else, the strongest part of this program is they’re so supportive of all the different services. Everyone works as a team.”

“I had to yell at him to get a belt on.” – Ed Warriner

The biggest transformation has been Marcus Hall. The senior right guard has shed nearly 20 pounds since the end of last season. It’s been so dramatic that offensive line coach Ed Warinner was worried Hall’s new physique would cause his pants to fall down.

“I had to yell at him to get a belt on,” Warinner said.

Hall is down to 308 pounds after playing 2012 at 325. That’s on top of the 15 pounds he lost during the 2011-12 offseason. Not only does Hall feel better – as good as his playing days at Glenville – his on-field production has soared. Added speed and muscle means a more complete blocker.

During the Tressel era, Hall was a lineman with big expectations that performed at an underwhelming level. Off-field trouble didn’t help matters. But Wick came in with no preconceived notions. She developed a friendship with Hall and his girlfriend, Martina Ellerbe, while working with the women’s basketball team. Ellerbe contributed added motivation for Hall.

“It was really hard for him,” Wick said. “I won’t say it was easy. He had to do some changes. But he was more than willing to do that. I find him to be very, very intelligent. Once you give him the logic behind it, he’s fine. He may not like it all the time, but he’ll say, ‘Yes, Miss Sarah, I’ll get my salad.’ He knows.

“Maybe it’s because I’m the mother of the team, but they seem willing to work at it. I also think they’ve been giving an opportunity to showcase themselves, so they all feel like, OK, this is what I have to do. And they’ve all bought in.”

Wick’s teachings and philosophies leave the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and venture to dorm rooms and apartments. She preaches a peace plate diet: one-third protein, one-third colorful vegetable or fruit and one-third starch.

“She does cooking classes and plans grocery shopping. There are so many little things that are so important to the fine detailing and foundation of this program,” said Linsley, who lost 15 pounds. “It’s day-in and day-out.”

Hydration is another component to the line’s reinvention. The Buckeyes are instructed to drink 75 percent of their body weight in fluid ounces each day. It’s not an unattainable goal when you have a state-of-the-art Gatorade Fuel Bar a few paces away. The setup features stainless steel cabinets and appliances, an eight-stool seating area, five leather recliners, two HD TVs and an endless supply of Gatorade nutrition bars, sports drinks and even gummies.

Marotti and Wick are big on hydration and recovery, so the new establishment is located in an area where players will pass by frequently.

The year before the unlikely duo – and Warinner – took hold of the linemen, Ohio State ranked 118th nationally in sacks allowed. The Buckeyes went from 46 sacks in 2011 to 30 in 2012. And they produced nearly 500 more rushing yards. All told, Ohio State owned the 10th-best rushing attack and 21st-ranked scoring offense.

That was with a leaner offensive line.


Comments Show All Comments

Borrowed Time's picture

well, time to change my own diet too!

Bucks13's picture

Awesome article, another factor that makes this program special. It's been said before, but the real impact of urban and the things he implements like this will be seen this year and in coming years

BuckeyeSouth's picture

Love seeing OSU having a dietician on the staff and can't wait to see those lean(er) linemen pancake a few defenders.

Champions.  Undisputed.  

WC Buckeye's picture

To honor these guys' transformation, we may want to rethink the term pancake in favor of something a little more healthy. Lettuce-wrap? Fat-free tortilla? Anyone?

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

harleymanjax's picture

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

BuCkIfReAk's picture


Mark May is an alien.

rkylet83's picture

Diet is probably the most under appreciated and under utilized area in all athletics.  Fitness and strength development rates can be drastically improved or slowed by our diets.  I'm so glad to hear they are taking a very scientific and intentional approach to getting our player the best diets possible.     

MN Buckeye's picture

With all the foodies on this site, this is a good reminder to all of us to stay active and eat right.  My wife and I have been changing our diet to reduce fat and eat less, now I just have to eat less.

zenshade's picture

Please don't buy into the all fat is bad hype. It's dead wrong. Refined carbs and preservatives are going to be about ten times worse for your health than any type of fat you consume. That's where you need to start, and then worry about good fats vs bad fats.

MN Buckeye's picture

Agreed, Zen.  My daughter and son-in-law are huge into crossfit, so we have been doing more of the paleo diet.  For me this means cutting out a lot of the processed foods, including most fast food.

cbm 1929's picture

yeah, i'm a crossfit / paleo guy for 5 years now...the fact is, fat doesn't make you fat...fat is the best energy source out there, and we don't eat ENOUGH of it--should be the largest component of our caloric intake.  and refined carbs are the devil, causing all sorts of diseases of excess / inflammation.  i stopped eating that crap and got jacked, asthma disappeared, skin improved, slept better, joint aches disappeared.  as a former college football player who had lived two decades of his life simply trying to gain weight / jam in calories, i've learned that nutrition is ABSOLUTELY 75% of it, with my workouts the other 25%.

chirobuck's picture

But....but....but shouldn't u be taking drugs for all those things....

And then more drugs for those drugs side effects. ....

And then more drugs for those side effects......

And then more......


^ best post ever ^

OSUNeedles's picture
Link to "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." Pretty eye opening science behind the crap we eat... I still eat most of it, but at least I recognize that I am poisoning myself.

zenshade's picture

Ha ha... same here from time to time.  But at least with knowledge we can feel guilty about eating the right "wrong" things. :)  

chirobuck's picture

I'm glad this is starting to finally getting more widely known.....fats that havve a good ratio of omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6 are not only good for u but will literally fight chronic disease by limiting inflamitory chemicals like aracidonic acid, PLA2, TXA2, ect....I go through this talk with a patient almost once a week


^ best post ever ^

BeijingBucks's picture

Reading this... I need
s snack

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

zachofaltrades's picture

I'm actually eating more fat than ever now.  Trying out this whole ketosis thing.

BierStube's picture

Very interesting.  But drinking 75% of your body weight in fluid ounces each day seems like a lot.  If my math is correct, for a 300 pound lineman that is over 2 1/4 gallons each day!  I guess this does not leave much room for pizza and fries!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

trukjo's picture

WHAC may need a state of the art American Standard liquid disposal facility just down the hall from the hydration station...

Kyle Rowland's picture

When you work out as much and as hard as those guys, it probably isn't as difficult as you'd think. 

jdagrava.1's picture

I think it's closer to 1.75 gallons, but who's counting?!

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

zachofaltrades's picture

1.75 gallons is correct, which is not that much for a 300 pounder.  For a more average sized person, say around 180 lbs, it's more like a gallon a day.

Earle's picture

I wonder if the players are encouraged to drink water vs. sports drinks like gatorade.  At those kinds of volumes, I would think that would be an awful lot of sugar for someone trying to slim down.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

BierStube's picture

Good catch .. if forgot to multiply by .75.  Up vote for you sir!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

BuckeyeFreak4844's picture

I love the variety of angles this site covers its a very well rounded group of people on here and i really enjoy reading all of the articles.

Michigan Sucks!

buckeyestu's picture

I already have changed my diet, thanks to my employer motivating me to lose weight or pay more for health coverage. I quit smoking and drinking alcohol too, 10 years ago. i walk every day too, i have 3 ornery boxers who need daily exercise.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Good for you, Buckeye. Happy to hear that. 

zachofaltrades's picture

You quit drinking alcohol?  How did you do it?  Seems impossible for me, unless I get all new friends.  I wish I could though.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Good for you man.  I couldnt give up my beer, kudos to you good sir.  And HUGE props for quitting smoking.  Great Job.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Ethan's picture

This is such a cool article. I love stuff like this -- at the risk of sounding like a commercial, there's no reason not to take care of your body. Seeing tangible payoffs of these guys for working hard at it is even more motivation to do so. 

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

Can't wait to watch these boys pancake all these other portly muffin top linemen in this league. Marotti got em juiced.
Ok, I need breakfast.

BUCKtuckian's picture

Meanwhile in East Lansing.....

People are saying that I'm an alcoholic, and that's not true, because I only drink when I work, and I'm a workaholic.
Ron White

clint5507's picture

If I could plus one this, I would.  Thank you, I got quite the laugh on a slow Friday morning.  Long live the walrus, as long as it isn't in Columbus!

zbd's picture

Just remind the players not much nutritional foods in night clubs and bars.

buckeye92's picture

I'd be curious to if they are taking supplements...multivitamins, protein etc.  Just interested to hear what tOSU staff opinion is on some of the supplements.

One Bad Buckeye's picture

Yeah me too.  I'm pretty sure Marotti took Vonn Bell's "Muscle Milk" and threw it in the trash can....that stuff is full of garbage.  

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

Olemissbuckeye's picture

@11w staffers:

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Get us the straight "juice" on supplements in college football.

BammBammRiley's picture

Yeah it is. Even worse is Ensure.

I love all the products by VPX. High quality ingredients with zero impact carbs. No processed sugar or corn syrup.

BammBamm is my dog, Riley is my 4 yr old daughter, and THE Ohio state Buckeyes complete the three most sacred loves I cherish

3GB's picture

From my boots on the ground in the nutrition staff:
A lot of players have personalized diet plans to get them where Coach Mick & Co. want them to be physically.  This includes food as well as other supplement-based intake sources like vitamins, smoothies, shakes and snacks like Clif bars.

ChazBuckeye's picture

I'm so glad you made an article about this bc it's a huge reason why OSU's linemen are looking and playing A LOT better.  In Urban and Herman's offense, you must have Olinemen that can get to the second level with speed.  Not to mention, Wick and Mick are a great combination. Glad they're changing things from the way they used to be.    

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

One Bad Buckeye's picture

I've lost nearly 35 pounds this year doing a strict juice fast.  I did two 30 day fasts about 4 months apart.  I've kept the weight off and feel amazing.  I play soccer once a week and ultimate frisbee twice a week and I throw in about 15 miles of running and a couple days of cycling in there.  
As far as the fast goes, the first three to five days suck as far as hunger pains go, but you pretty much cruise after that.  
For me there is no easier way to lose weight and, more importantly, cleanse your system than juice fasting.  

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

bodast67's picture

I juice as well ONE BAD...I had a rude awakening by watching two documentaries on NETFLIX-
"Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" about juicing & "Food INC." about the food industry as a whole and how it is destroying our food. 




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

cinserious's picture

During the Tressel era, Hall was a lineman with big expectations that performed at an underwhelming level.

^^How many times have we heard this broken record.^^
Good thing we have Warriner as our line coach now! Its exciting to see how much more this O-line improved even over last year's. Slimmer, quicker, better conditioned and even better hydrated!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Kvs66's picture

That was typical of most Bollman linemen. That is a reason most good line prospects went elsewhere to have a much better chance to be successful regardless of the fat sloth approach to line play the Walrus insisted on. MSU should take a huge step backwards as long as he haunts their offense.


Kvs66's picture

That was typical of most Bollman linemen. That is a reason most good line prospects went elsewhere to have a much better chance to be successful regardless of the fat sloth approach to line play the Walrus insisted on. MSU should take a huge step backwards as long as he haunts their offense.


Riggins's picture

I'm proud of the work Marotti, Wick and the team are doing. I know Marcus made great strides in his play because of the improved physique. 
But honestly, when youre 330+, how hard is it to drop 20 lbs? 

clint5507's picture

Agreed. But if that is his net loss with his included muscle gain, that is pretty impressive.

Buckeye06's picture

Difficult if you are replacing it with muscle; means he probably dropped about 50, and added 30 of it back into muscle.
Dropping weight just to drop is pretty easy for a guy; just eat less.  To gain muscle back, you have to lift heavy, which means you can't drop your calorie intake as much.  Therefore, it takes a lot longer

Kindell's picture

This is a good reminder of how much behind the scenes work and the amount of people who are involved with the results that we see every Saturday.

Akeem96's picture

In Monday's Skully, DJ ripped those of us who like to check out the Camp hotel check in pictures.
However, a few years ago those pictures always seemed to include a lot of fast food bags being carried by the players.  Seems like 50%+ of players were carrying some form.  I don't recall seeing ANY this year.

faux_maestro's picture

Shazier had a cake though.....

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

boojtastic's picture

I read this while eating a Dunkin Donuts breakfast I feel like shit.

Dougger's picture

Favorite quote:

but he’ll say, ‘Yes, Miss Sarah, I’ll get my salad.’ He knows.

Awesome article to read Kyle, thanks. I know during the Tressel era some guys had to eat 7 meals a day to bulk up - with this plan I wonder how often they're eating now

I like football

Otown Buckeye's picture

salad is just a promissory note that food is coming.

"because we couldn't go for three"

rekrul's picture

Love John Pinette.

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

Otown Buckeye's picture

for real...throw some protein on there.  Nothing like a 32 oz Ribeye over your "salad"

"because we couldn't go for three"

gwright78's picture

Am I the only one who just realized it's Marotti, not Mariotti? I'm stunned.

45has2's picture

Don't put 89 octane in a Ferrari and don't put junk food in a Buckeye.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

2002osubuck's picture

Big hank attributed his progress to the nutrition plan that wick put him on. Said was the best shape of his life and we saw how he ran guys down on the sidelines games after game. Let's see how it's helped being in the program for a second year. There are a lot of player saying they're the strongest they've ever been, which is going to be fun to watch this year ie. Shazier.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article. Glad to see the focus is on eating right in order to become better athletes.  Nowadays you've got to pay attention to every little detail to get an edge. 
Go Bucks!

pjtobin's picture

I'm so happy these young ppl are getting the entire body and mind treatment. Not just at their practices, but everywhere. They are healthier, stronger, faster , and in top physical form to compete at a higher level. I love hearing these types of stories. That our players for all sports are being taught how to diet and exercise properly. I would think that more schools would do the same. It's hard to imagine this not being the norm everywhere. I know we are blessed to have it here at TOSU. Thanks to UFM for bring it in. What a great guy he is!  

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Eph97's picture

Great article. Nutrition is so important, perhaps the most important factor, for a quality life. Hopefully these players will carry these good habits beyond their playing days. Personally, I feel much better in the last few months I've started intermittent fasting and cut out all junk carbs. The problem though is how tough it is to find food! I was at Target today and literally every pre-packaged item had high fructose corn syrup in it, which of course I didn't buy.

M Man's picture

It's a very good idea, and this was a nice article describing it.
Our guy is Joel Totoro, whom we got from the New England Patroiots:

chirobuck's picture

Oh my god where do I sign up, that would be my dream job....I have a diplomate in internal disorder and I use it not only for helping athletes recover faster from injury but to treat chronic disease of all kinds....reading this makes me very happy but I wonder if they are talking to these guys about n3 to n6 ratios and chronic inflammation and the role of gluten cause I follow hyde on twitter and I cringe every time I read how he's out at taco bell again


^ best post ever ^

BuckeyeNationProblems's picture

I changed my diet 3 months ago and am up 20 lbs of fat :(