Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The philosophy for football players, especially lineman, has always been that bigger is better.
For years players have viewed gaining weight as an important part of reaching their full potential on the football field.
After spending his entire career trying to pack on pounds City High senior Liam McComas was ready for a change.
“I spent all this time eating every two hours and trying to gain weight and I just felt terrible,” McComas said. “I knew I had to change something.”
McComas didn’t just change something, he changed just about everything including how he looked at what translated to success on the football field.
Those changes have turned McComas in a stronger, faster, more confident player producing at a career-best clip for 2-3 City High.
“He is pretty much a changed man physique wise,” City Hich Coach Dan Sabers said. “He lost 25-30 pounds and he has definitely become explosive and he’s a very confident young man.”
The changes started shortly after McComas saw a solid junior season end with a disappointing 2-7 record.
McComas ranked third on the team with 30.5 tackles a year ago and led the Little Hawks with six tackles for loss and three sacks as a 235-pound defensive end while doubling as a left tackle.
As Sabers met with returning players during the offseason he stressed the need for the Little Hawks to become more explosive.
That struck a chord with McComas who never felt comfortable trying to bulk up to play line.
“My cousin played football up at South Dakota and was a lineman and he put me on his diet plan and I just couldn’t do it,” McComas explained. “I felt like I couldn’t move.”
McComas began taking a different view at what would make his most effective in the fall.
He streamlined his body by overhauling everything from his eating habits to his work ethic and discipline.
It started with his diet. McComas cut out the junk food and empty calories and went to a lean diet centered on meat, rice, fruits and vegetables.
“I just ate right,” McComas said. “My mom was preaching to me eating right because I never really ate right before that. Just eating good meals, good protein and getting my diet right and then working out every chance I got.”
McComas had to convince Sabers his slimming plan would work.
In order to do that he had to show the veteran head coach he could build strength while shedding pounds.
To do that McComas said he hit the weight room with a newfound intensity.
“That was a big thing with coach Sabers is he didn’t want me to lose strength but I showed him through lifting over the summer that I kept my strength up,” McComas said. “I’m as strong as I’ve ever been.”
McComas hit career-bests in all the major lifts and joined the City High 800-pound lifting club all while serving as the starting catcher for the City High baseball team over the summer.
A .344 hitter that led the Little Hawks in home runs and RBI the baseball season proved to be an important part of McComas’ offseason transformation.
“Catching two games a night that really helped,” McComas said. “Putting everything together with a good diet is the best thing but baseball in the hot weather and getting in that catchers gear I sweated a lot of it off.”
McComas lost close to 40 pounds in all, trimming down to 200 pounds.
His weight went down but the production for McComas this season has gone way up.
Five games into the season he has nearly matched his tackle total from last season with 28 stops including eight tackles for loss.
McComas ranks second in Class 4A with five sacks.
“Losing all that weight over the offseason just really put me in the best position to play this year,” McComas said. “I feel explosive, I feel strong and I just feel better overall. Going through my day I just feel better.”
The changes didn’t stop with his body transformation.
After starting the first three games at left tackle McComas switched jersey numbers from 51 to 81 and made the move out to tight end.
In his first game since youth football playing anything other than offensive line McComas caught four passes for 47 yards in a win over Dubuque Hempstead.
"We just felt that he was too good to play (tackle),” Sabers said. “He was one of our better o-lineman that’s for sure but we just felt that we needed more of a blocking presence at tight end and we knew he had the skills to play there. You always try to build a team with an o-line but we still felt that he is still part of our o-line, the tight end plays a key role for us blocking and we thought we could get him more involved and let him handle the ball some.”
McComas had a 25-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter that set up the game-winning touchdown against Dubuque Hempstead.
In two games with McComas at tight end the Little Hawks have thrown for 273 yards after passing for 125 yards in the first three games combined.
“That is a great spot for him,” City High senior Max DePrenger said of the move to tight end. “Since he is a catcher in baseball he just knows how to catch balls. This ball is just a little bit bigger than a baseball but it’s a great position for him.”
McComas wants to change one more thing before his career ends.
City High won two games a year ago and sits at 2-3 with four regular season games remaining.
McComas would like nothing more than to add a few more wins to that total over the coming weeks.
“We have shown what type of team we can be,” McComas said. “If we can continue to improve I think we have a chance to do some great things.”
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