Hard work does not go unnoticed for lineman


Sean Hastings

Senior Evan Kanz said he ate six eggs every morning to bulk up for football season. Kanz earned All-OVC Second Team.

Maria Baldwin, Feature Writer

In football, there are often many positions that are overlooked, simply because it is easier to focus on where the ball is on the field.

Perhaps the most overlooked position is the offensive lineman.

This position is crucial because, among other jobs, the offensive lineman is responsible for protecting the quarterback and opening a gap for the running back.

Sometimes, the work an offensive lineman puts in does go noticed and they appreciate that.

Redshirt senior Evan Kanz was named second-team All-Ohio Valley Conference this year and said a lot of what goes into his success is aimed towards the success of the team’s offense overall.

“Having a 1,000-yard rusher definitely helped,” he said. “Throughout the weeks and throughout the year, I’ve watched every other team’s offensive lines in the conference, and I could definitely tell you who the good guys are.”

Kanz was proud of the honor, especially because his position is often overlooked, without many accolades.

“To be honest, it does feel great, because if anyone was to know my name, it would probably be for a bad reason. It meant quite a bit to me,” Kanz said.

Kanz took this role on the field to heart, but it was not easy at first.

“In eighth grade, I was a quarterback and then when I went to high school, I had a growth spurt and moved to the line my sophomore year,” he said. “It wasn’t something that I enjoyed at first, but once I realized how good at it I was, I learned to enjoy it.”

As Kanz grew to enjoy his crucial spot on the field, he also had to grow in size.

Growing in size is no easy feat, especially being as active as an athlete is.

“I always had problems gaining weight, so I just made sure that I ate right when I woke up and right when I went to sleep,” Kanz said.

Weight is a very important component of the offensive line position, as they battle every play, crashing into the defensive linemen on the other side.

In the life of a lineman, strength trainers stress that protein is key to bulking up and getting stronger.

“After lifting, we drink protein shakes, and our strength coach always tells us that to get big, we need to eat big,” Kanz said. “You have to eat to keep the weight up, and if you don’t keep eating, you’ll feel it and it’ll show it on the scale.”

To help with the routine weigh-ins, Kanz said peanut butter sandwiches are his go-to meal.

He said eating in the morning and night is important to maintaining his energy and strength.

“I like to eat a lot of protein. I’ll eat six eggs in the morning, and I’ll eat a lot of meat and protein at night,” Kanz said. “I don’t eat much for lunch, because it’s hard for my stomach to handle a lot of food before practice. That was my problem; it was hard for me to eat during the day.”

Strength coaches push players to eat the correct amount of protein and carbs to keep their strength and weight up to not only perform at practice, but to perform well the entire season.

“I wanted to stay as healthy as possible,” Kanz said. “I just wanted to go out the right way this last year. I’ve been working for so many years at it, and I just wanted to go out as best as I could.”

Kanz was selected to be a captain this year for the Panthers.

“I’ve heard all my life that I was a leader,” Kanz said. “I haven’t always embraced it, but being a captain here at Eastern, I really appreciated the honor because I was the second oldest person on the team.”

Kanz’s goal was to help his team win conference and although that did not happen this year, he can look back knowing that he was respected by his teammates and that he led the younger athletes by example.

“I wasn’t always the most vocal person, but I was always someone who could lead by example,” Kanz said. “I was always doing the right thing and playing hard and the team noticed that. I also played through so many injuries and that was respected.”

In order to stay healthy and ready to compete and to also keep his weight up, Kanz spent a majority of his time in the weight room getting stronger and more prepared for his rivals on the field, for when they are right in front of him, eager to crash together.

“I just lift as hard as I can throughout the week,” Kanz said. “I know some guys don’t like the heavy lifting, but I think it is necessary to keep my body going, so I just work and lift as hard as I can throughout the week.”

Practices for offensive linemen have a different take than any other position, which goes to show how physical the offensive lineman position is and the gritty training they undergo every day.

“We probably go harder and more physical in the weight room, and the practice field and our practices are a bit more strenuous. We try to eat a lot, and I would say that our position is harder on the body,” he said.

For Kanz, it is not about the physicality of the position itself but also the intellect that comes with it.

“My favorite thing about it is the amount of intelligence and technique that goes into it,” Kanz said. “You’ll hear about people battling, and it’s a big and strong position and it’s physical. But, at the same time, the best players are the ones who work on their technique and really know what’s going on out there and I think that is what set me apart from the rest.”

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]