LAFAYETTE — It seems counter-intuitive, but University of Louisiana at Lafayette senior Mykhael Quave actually found eating less enjoyable when he was told he needed to add 10 to 15 pounds this offseason.
This was eating with a purpose, and that weight had to be good weight — not the kind that comes so easily with pizza, potato chips and other junk food.
“I had to eat healthy,” Quave said with a look of feigned disgust Monday at Sun Belt Conference Media Day in New Orleans. “The joy of eating was really taken away from me. It went from, ‘Yeah, I’m about to eat this!’ to, ‘Man, I’ve got to eat.’ I had to eat six times a day, and it wasn’t food that I’d recommend.
“It was a lot of chicken breast, flavorless food. Bland. It made eating not fun, but I’m glad I’m done with that. I can eat whatever now. I can’t wait to eat the cheesecake after I leave here. Something sweet, very fattening.”
The extra beef on Quave’s frame was necessary for his move inside. The senior who has started each of his 39 college football games — the past 26 of which came at left tackle — will start the season at left guard for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“You’re dealing with fatter people,” Quave said. “You’re not dealing with defensive ends that are 275, 280 (pounds). You’re dealing with guys that are 310, 315, 330 — the big fat guys.”
Offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue first approached Quave about the move in the spring after it became clear the Cajuns were not going to sign a junior-college guard to bolster the unit’s depth.
Quave spent the entire spring at left guard. The move wasn’t a drastic one despite the fact that he had not played the position since the 2012 season, when he started all 13 games at left guard as a redshirt freshman.
“It’s not that big of a switch for me, because I always had to know the position. In case anything happened, I’d be ready to make the move inside,” Quave said. “Now that I’m making that move, it’s not a big deal for me. I was mentally ready for it.”
Quave was honest when he said that, if given a choice between guard and tackle, he’d rather play tackle. Being isolated on an island and playing as much of a finesse game as can be had on the offensive line suits him more than the physical nature of the interior.
But he also wanted to make it clear that the team’s goals were above his own.
“I didn’t have a problem with it because that’s what the team needed,” Quave said. “I feel like, me being one of the leaders on the team, it’s up to me to do whatever it takes for the team to have the best possibility to win. The change was made for the team because that’s a big need that we had.”
Since this is Quave’s final year, it’s possible that the move to guard may provide a boost to his professional football stock if he proves to be a better fit at that position than left tackle.
Coach Mark Hudspeth said in his opening address at media day that he believes Quave and the Cajuns’ other player representative, Dominique Tovell, have NFL futures in front of them.
Quave said he didn’t think about it that way, but if that benefit comes to fruition, he’ll take it.
For now, he’s getting used to playing beside two new players. He said both Grant Horst and D’Aquin Withrow had “exceptional” springs, and the Cajuns should be in good shape whichever player winds up winning the preseason battle to replace him at left tackle.
“They really showed (Rodrigue) that, whoever he went with, he’d be able to have confidence in them to protect the blind side of the quarterback,” Quave said.
And with that, Quave went off to train for the rigors of the interior offensive line with some cheesecake.