In each game this season, Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison has gone over the 100-yard rushing mark. Quarterback Gary Nova has only been sacked three times, although two of those sacks came on intentional grounding calls. A major reason for both of those feats has been the play of starting left guard Antwan Lowery.
The fourth-year junior came to Rutgers as a big defensive tackle, who was converted to the offensive line during spring practice of his true freshman season. He shed a great deal of weight over the course of that year and the position change looked to be a fortuitous one as Lowery went one to start four games at right guard during the 2010 season.
He came back in 2011 and started three of the first five games, but he was then relegated to the sidelines. During the final eight games of the season, Lowery did not make it back onto the field for a single play.
"I had a lot of things in my life going wrong. My personal life distracted me from playing football and once things went downhill I just crumbled," Lowery said.
The Miami native talked about one of the things that had gone wrong in his life.
"My weight, it was a constant battle just trying to make the weight that coach Schiano wanted me to make. I was not eating right, trying to starve myself. Whatever the case might have been, I just wasn't in the right state of mind. It affected me a lot with school and football and my personal life."
That could have led Lowery to take a path away from football. However, he opted not to deviate from that charted course.
"There were times I could have easily walked away from it or this program," Lowery said. "We all had new life with coach Flood taking over. I felt like this was something I started, it's something I'm going to finish."
Lowery's resurgence has been evident in his play through the first part of this season. But things began looking upward when he was able to put the struggles with his weight behind him.
He entered spring practice heavier than he was during the previous seasons and it has proven to be quite beneficial.
"I actually feel like a real offensive lineman," Lowery said. "When I was playing at 305, 304 [pounds], I was just out there just trying to survive. Now that I was able to put on more weight, it is different carrying it. But I've adjusted to playing at 323 and I like it."
Maintaining that weight now seems to be no problem for Lowery.
"It's easy to keep my weight at a certain weight. Before when I was lighter, I was constantly trying to fight weight," he explained. "It was affecting my performance and now that I'm able to stay at one weight and not have to worry about it, it's helped me."
Lowery also said it was head coach Kyle Flood's idea to have him playing at his current weight.
"He gave us goal weights and that's what he wanted me at."
The added size has been a particular help in Lowery's performance as a pass blocker.
"I was always physical in the run game but I see it in the passing game," Lowery said. "In years past, I was nervous in the passing game blocking one-on-one by myself. Now, when I'm by myself blocking, I know I'm going to win every rep."
Lowery is also stronger with the addition of more weight.
"A lot stronger," he acknowledged.
Now that Lowery has helped Rutgers' offensive line rebound from a couple of sub-par seasons, he deserves his share of credit. But he's also had his share of help from Flood along the way.
"I wanted to show him what I went through last year was the past and I came out and I worked hard. I did what I had to do, I did what he wanted me to do to get to where I was at. I worked hard and I studied my assignments, whatever the case may have been. He saw that, he put trust in me and when I earned that spot at left guard he told me it was mine to lose. And since then, I haven't looked back."