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August 25, 2011Victor Gray was a man on a mission. An eating mission, that is.
For the past two years, the UCF defensive tackle has made a conscious effort to consume an excess of calories to add bulk to his formerly slender frame.
The 6-foot-4 former Dr. Phillips star - a high school defensive end - enrolled in 2009 weighing in at around 220 pounds. He says he's now at 278 pounds, a weight much better suited to play on the interior defensive line.
"That's a big difference," Gray said of the 58-pound weight gain. "I feel it. Sometimes I feel a little sluggish, but it's all about mental training. If I get my mind right, my body follows."
When Gray says he ate all day, he means it.
"I was eating at least eight meals a day - eight hearty meals," Gray said. "It was more than eight. Snacks upon snacks. I'd bring snacks to class. Snacks in bed. Snacks when I wake up. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and eat."
What was a typical daily menu?
"I love steak," Gray said. "Steak and potatoes. I'd cook a lot of that. On the next day I'd follow up with fried pork chops with some rice and vegetables. Got to get your greens in there too - mom always taught me that. A lot of heavy food I was eating. I love grits, eggs and sausage. I made that three times a day."
Last season Gray was selected to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team after making 11 starts and appearing in all 14 games. One of his best performances came against Georgia in the Liberty Bowl when he recorded six tackles and forced a fumble.
"I feel like a great season is in store," Gray said. "My goal is to be conference defensive player of the year. I put on the weight, put on the strength and I've gotten even faster. I just want to go out there and play."
The preseason officially ended Tuesday. The players got the day off (at least from practice) on Wednesday and on Thursday will begin game preparations for the season opener against Charleston Southern.
"I couldn't be any more excited," Gray said. "I'm ready for a new opponent to come up. It's a new defense this year and people think it might not be as good as last year. 'Oh, you lost this or lost that.' It's all about surpassing expectations and our own expectations.
"Our goal is to be nothing less than last year's defense if not better. We feel we have the talent and the depth to do it."
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