BOULDER — Jordan Dizon doesn’t fit the profile of a yo-yo dieter.
He’s 19 years old, he works out constantly and he’s a starting inside linebacker for the Colorado Buffaloes because he’s too fast, too strong and too athletic not to be.
But after leaving his native Hawaii last year, and struggling to adjust to the mainland diet, the sophomore has experienced weight swings in the past 12 months that would make Jenny Craig flinch.
According to Dizon, he first
came to Colorado weighing 232 pounds. By the seventh game of the season, he was a trim 195. After spring drills, he went back home weighing 210 pounds. When he returned three weeks later, he was 231.
“My dietitian just tripped out,” Dizon said between bites of a post-practice ice cream sandwich, “She doesn’t know what the hell is wrong with me.”
Dizon, currently 228 pounds, attributes the fluctuations, in part, to a unique case of home sickness. The kinds of foods on which he was raised simply don’t exist at the CU training table.
“We have a lot of high-calorie food in Hawaii and we put a lot of seasoning and oil and junk on it,” said Dizon, who went to Waimea High School on the island of Kauai, the westernmost high school in the United States.
“At Dal Ward, they serve really healthy food. So that didn’t work out too well. The weight just dropped.”
Dizon, who returned to practice Tuesday after missing contact for a week due to a nagging shoulder injury, said another significant difference was the lack of rice. Growing up, he ate some form of it for every meal, but the team barely serves it. So, when he returned to Hawaii this May, he couldn’t get enough of it.
“It’s just home cooking. You have a break from school, you start binging on food, and the weight just kind of appears,” Dizon said. “Also, I went to Vegas for a week and hit all those buffets. That was awesome.”
Although Dizon was told to get bigger after last season, in which he was one of the smallest linebackers in the Big 12, his coaches were amazed at how far he took their advice.
“For a while, he was too big,” head coach Gary Barnett said. “We had to sort of cut it back.”
When he first returned to CU after his vacation, the first words from linebacker coach Brian Cabral were, “You’re too fat.”
Cabral, also a Hawaii native, said he understands the kind of culture shock Dizon is going through. He also thinks the extra weight shouldn’t be that big of an issue as long as he controls it.
“A lot of that weight came with him getting stronger, and it’s not atypical for a freshman to gain weight before his sophomore year,” Cabral said. “He handles the weight well, and chances are it will slowly go down with practice.
“As long as he can keep his speed and his quickness, that’s all that really matters.”
But Dizon said he will do whatever he can to avoid the kind of weight loss he suffered last season, although it didn’t keep him from breaking the school record for tackles by a true freshman.
He’s found a Pacific market 20 minutes from his house, and he’s invested in a high-quality rice cooker. If all goes as planned, he’ll give the team dietitians a break this fall.
“From a fatigue standpoint, I’ll have to get used to this extra weight. Other than that, I actually like it,” he said. “It’s more muscle than fat and my body is taking it real well.”
Volunteers, please: The Buffs’ kickoff return team practiced for the first time Tuesday with almost no idea who will be their return men for the season opener against Colorado State next month.
CU lost its best returner when cornerback Terrence Wheatley went down for the season with a severe wrist injury. The coaches have two weeks to find his replacement among six candidates, which includes receiver Vance Washington, running back Hugh Charles and corners Stephone Robinson, Gerett Burl, Terry Washington and Chase McBride.
“We haven’t eliminated anybody yet,” Barnett said. “We watch who consistently catches it, who has a burst and who has a little vision for it. After that, it’s a crapshoot.”
Last season, the Buffs averaged 19.5 yards per kickoff return, sixth in the Big 12.
Training room: Ryan Walters, suffering from an unknown knee injury, was held out of most drills Tuesday. An MRI taken on Walters’ knee Monday didn’t reveal any serious damage and Barnett said team doctors are relying on anti-inflammatory medicine to help the problem.
Defensive end Greg Newman (knee) also missed Tuesday’s practice but is expected to return this week.
Tickets available for opener: According to CU, more than 6,000 tickets remain unsold for the Buffs’ Sept. 3 opener against Colorado State at Folsom field.
However, all but one suite has been sold for the contest, meaning the game will likely mark the first time all 41 suites have been sold for a game in the three years since they were installed in the stadium.