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August 13, 2013

Sterling sees hard work pay off

You may not recognize Aslam Sterling even though he played in all 12 games last season.

From the time he stepped onto campus last summer he's dropped more than 50 pounds from 368 to a quicker, slimmer 315 after running before and after every practice.

"I don't think anyone thinks they're that big until they see the before and after pictures," Sterling said. "I look at the pictures now and I feel great about myself. I feel like I really accomplished something."

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard said Sterling's new fit frame is in line with guys he played with in his 11-year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We're excited about the promise that he's shown, he's got a pro body," Grunhard said. "If he can get it done mentally and keep working physically, he's got a shot."

Sterling said that serves as extra motivation to keep improving.

"Hearing that from coach Grunhard who played in the league for so long, it's nice to hear something like that," Sterling said. "If I've got a pro body that means that pro coaches are going to come looking so I've just got to keep working hard."

Not only is he feeling better and more confident, but Grunhard said the physical effects of the weight loss are already evident in the first week of camp.

"It shows up in his stamina," Grunhard said. "When you're tired, your mind tends to shut off a little bit. That's when you start having the mental errors and then you start to not do the things we talk about fundamentally or technique-wise. Maybe last year it would be after three or four or five plays in a row and now he can go through an eight to 12 play period and really keep focused both mentally and physically."

Sterling said it's showed in other ways too, as his footwork has improved and he's quicker off the ball.

In his second season with the Jayhawks he is switching over to left tackle from right tackle which he played back at Nassau Community College. Despite the position change, he's back on top of the depth chart beating out junior college transfer Zach Fondal and senior Gavin Howard.

"It was just like a mindset that you're protecting the quarterback's blind spot so you have to be perfect on every play," Sterling said.

He joins Ngalu Fusimalohi, Pat Lewandowski, Mike Smithburg and Riley Spencer on the Jayhawks' big, athletic offensive line.

"I think you will like Aslam, or else I wouldn't have him listed first," Charlie Weis said. "Me moving him to left tackle, should be all you need to know about that one. Other than center, that is the one that you have to take care of. That is the number one position with a righty at quarterback is a left tackle. You are losing a lot of experience at those two positions, but I've got smart guys right through the depth chart at center. All three of those guys are very smart. I wouldn't put Aslam over at left tackle if I didn't think he could compete over there."



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