IOWA CITY, Iowa — Every day Cedrick Lattimore walks into Iowa’s defensive line room. Every day he sees a poster of Mike Daniels.
The same thought enters his head: I want to be that guy. Daniels earned second-team All-Big Ten honors at Iowa and has become a star with the Green Bay Packers.
If Lattimore is to walk the same path, he knows his first step needs to be in the team’s food line. Nutrition and healthy eating have put Lattimore in a position to challenge for a starting position this fall.
“Eating right is the way of life,” Lattimore said in April. “If I knew when I was in high school about eating right, I would have started sooner.”
For Cedrick Lattimore, fast food out, fresh food in
Lattimore arrived at Iowa last year as a 6-foot-5, 260-pound 3-star high school defensive end who was switching to defensive tackle. He needed to pack on weight in order to thrive inside, but first he needed to learn how about nutrition.
Fast food was cut from his diet. Iowa taught him to focus on fresh food on the outer supermarket walls, and to avoid the pre-packaged items in the middle aisles.
It helps that Iowa can feed Lattimore, and any athlete, unlimited meals and snacks following an NCAA rule change in 2014. Iowa views itself as a developmental program and sees nutrition as a key to growth, just like the weight room and position drills.
“It gives us a chance to maximize what we are doing, and we have to maximize what we are doing,” said Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle in December. “We don’t have guys walking through the door ready-made. So for us it’s a big benefit.”
The Hawkeyes wanted Lattimore to bulk up to 270 pounds when he arrived last summer. He hit his goal quickly, he said, putting on about 20 pounds before the start of his freshman season.
Lattimore did it by attacking breakfast and dinner, the two meals Iowa provides. He loaded his plate with chicken, pasta, and vegetables. He is on his own for lunch, but tends to eat a chicken sandwich and whatever fruit and vegetables he can get his hands on. He will snack during the day on apples and bananas.
“A lot of fruit stuff to keep me energized,” Lattimore said.
He kept packing on the pounds during the season. He now weighs 290, gaining 30 pounds since arriving on campus.
“It’s easier to hit the weight with the food you have available to eat,” Lattimore said.
Seeing an impact on the field
Lattimore slimmed down this spring. He exited the team’s winter workouts weighing 295. He dropped 5 pounds in spring practice as his target goal for April was 291. The Hawkeyes want Lattimore to grow, but not at the expense of explosiveness or athleticism.
“When you’re a young player and you put weight on, Chris does a tremendous job of kind of gauging how much to put on,” said defensive line coach Reese Morgan in March. “We have target weights for all the guys that they have to be within 2 pounds of, and hopefully on that plan, and Chris is historic for doing this, gradually build into a position and get to a point where you’re not awkward.”
Bulking up helped Lattimore position himself as one the breakout stars of the spring. He is likely to open preseason camp a starter.
Still, there is plenty for him to work on. Lattimore, who played in six games as a true freshman, is adjusting to the physicality of playing inside.
He’s confident, though, that one of the first things he learned at Iowa will help him in his quest to become the next Mike Daniels.
“My diet should continue to benefit me and not just in weight gain,” Lattimore said. “I am moving around better with my weight now. That will help this season.”