With improved strength, WR Chew shines

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on March 29, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Van Chew steps on the scale every time he enters the weight room. He has to.It’s apparent to teammate Antwon Bailey. To the Syracuse running back, it seems as if Chew’s pipe-cleaner calves are on the scale every time the two work out together. That is only because Chew knows if he is to play next year, he must work the scale every day. With the departure of the would-be starter Mike Jones at the Z wide receiver position before spring practice started, Chew was promoted. And thus far, he hasn’t disappointed. The rising junior wide receiver has provided more highlight-reel plays than any other member of the Syracuse roster through the first five practices. ‘I’ll tell you what, he did a great job this offseason,’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said after practice last Wednesday. ‘I don’t know the exact number, but he put on 12 pounds, 15 pounds and that was one of the things that happened last year, he wasn’t physical enough to get off the line of scrimmage.’In the fall, the times Chew graced that scale in the football weight room, it would read somewhere around 161 pounds. Now, it teeters and changes much more frequently. Heading into spring practice, Chew claims to weigh 15 pounds more than his playing weight last year.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe’s hoping those extra pounds of muscle will enable him to improve upon his measly six receptions in 2009 — good enough for 11th on the team. It put Chew well behind Bailey and fellow running backs Delone Carter and Chew’s former roommate, Averin Collier.The added weight is in large part because of his extra homework assignment for Winter Break. His coaches told him to do one thing to complement his workout routine: eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A lot of them.After reeling in at least three catches of 25 yards or more in 11-on-11 play each day through the first week of practice, it appears as if Chew met that Skippy and Welch’s quota his coaches set out for him. He has not only been able to get off the line, but he has also become the team’s primary deep threat.‘I knew I had to gain about 10 to 15 pounds,’ Chew said. ‘So all I did was stick in the weight room and lifted and ran and tried to eat as much as I could. ‘Anything that was in front of me.’Over the break, Chew downed at least three sandwiches a day. And with that, he claims to have lived in the weight room, perfecting his already above-average technique. His former roommate, Collier, claims that despite his rail-thin figure, Chew is pound-for-pound one of the strongest players on the team. Most especially, Chew took more and more to the ‘Clean’ –– a lift where players lift a barbell vertically from the ground up to the shoulders and catch it at shoulder height. With each session in the weight room and each sandwich consumed, Chew put on the mass he and others envisioned. Two, then 5, then 7 and finally 15 pounds were added to his frame. And Chew likes to think some confidence was added as well.‘In the weight room, he shocked me when he came back from (Winter) Break,’ said wide receiver Alec Lemon, the No. 1 receiver on the depth chart. ‘He shocked me with all of the weight he put up. Bench, cleans, squats. ‘I told him when he came back, he put something extra in that peanut butter and jelly. I don’t know what it was.’Several weeks later, it’s a similar formula. Yet now it pertains to catches. Months ago, he would disappear in fall practices thanks to cornerbacks like Da’Mon Merkerson and Phillip Thomas easily shedding him. They would shadow him toward the sidelines, completely aloof of his routes. Chew now is able to hit back. With the added weight, he claims he can pick up speed enough to get by his teammates. Enough momentum thus far to gain two, then five, then seven and, by the end of Monday’s practice, more than a dozen deep hauls thus far in spring ball.It was highlighted by a touchdown grab Monday where Chew caught the ball over two defenders. Despite bobbling the ball as he was hit, he secured the ball as he met the ground. Later in practice, he found a seam past Merkerson and corralled another Ryan Nassib bullet in a tight window by the goal line. Those are just two of many this spring, as Chew is entering the discussion as a formidable option downfield.‘I think with the weight that I gained, it also gave momentum when I get off the ball,’ Chew said. ‘So I have better acceleration and won’t get bumped off my route.’Monday night fightsDoug Marrone knew Monday’s practice session was a successful one when he realized he left the field with a bloody pinky.‘They were a little spirited,’ Marrone said following practice. ‘When the head coach comes back and he is bleeding, his fingers bleeding, that is a pretty spirited practice. But again, we want to be competitive, not combative.’Monday’s practice session was highlighted by three scuffles involving players that Marrone attributed to heightened competition. After the first one, Marrone paused practice to get a message across to his players about the consequences of such actions in a game.‘There is a fine line between being competitive and combative,’ Marrone said. ‘And there were a couple of times today where we crossed that line.’The second incident was a fight between tight end Nick Provo and cornerback Phillip Thomas, in which the two threw punches at each other for roughly a minute. Then, defensive coordinator Scott Shafer stepped in as he attempted to pin the two down on the ground.A play later, everything seemed back to normal as Provo and Thomas matched up to the outside, yet again.And for senior linebacker Derrell Smith, the incident was not a big deal. He just relishes in the fact that his coaches aren’t afraid to get into the middle of things as well.Said Smith: ‘I loved it. Everybody loved it. That shows our competitive nature.’[email protected]last_img read more

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