Coker bulks up for CFL season

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

CALGARY - Talk about setting the bar high.

No matter what LaMarcus Coker accomplishes during the rest of his career, it’ll be difficult to live up to his CFL debut last September.

Coker took the first ball he touched 75 yards to paydirt in a Calgary Stampeders loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during Touchdown Atlantic.

Unfortunately, it was his only carry of the afternoon. He cramped up and was forced to watch the rest of the game.

The second-year running back wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again this campaign, so he spent the off-season bulking up.

“I worked pretty hard in the off-season,” said Coker, who will go into the season as Jon Cornish’s backup on the Stampeders.

“Coach told me I just needed to get stronger and gain a little weight. I think it’s going to help out a lot, making tougher runs and helping me stay healthy.”

Coker added 20 lb. of muscle over the winter, and he said he should be a lot more durable during his sophomore season.

“It’s kinda hard out there when you’re 180 (lb.) playing against these defensive linemen,” said Coker, who also missed a pair of late-season games in 2011 with a high-ankle sprain.

“I left here (in the fall) at 179, and I’m 199 today. I was listed on the roster last year at 195, but I was never 195 after the first day of camp.”

Coker, who will turn 26 later this month, lifted weights four times a week and altered his diet to bump up his caloric intake.

“I put on 10 lb. in seven days right before camp because I ate a loaf of Little Caesar’s bread every day,” Coker said. “I ate four meals a day plus the loaf of Little Caesar’s bread.

“Then some ice cream or banana pudding or some cookies, plus my protein shake.”

Sounds like it’s a lot more fun bulking up than trying to slim down.

“Yeah, it is,” said the product of Antioch, Tenn. “People would say, ‘Are you sure you want to put the weight on that fast?’

“But I’ve had 3% body fat for the past two years, which isn’t that healthy when you’re talking about heat and trying to cool your body down.

“With my body fat being so low, it was at the point where I would get cramps in my face. It was crazy — fingers, toes, neck, abs, everything …

“For me, it feels good to have a little extra meat on my bones.”

The 5-foot-11 speedster piled up 234 yards on just 24 carries in 2011.

The import’s sparkling 9.8 yards-per-carry average was obviously helped out by that career-opening dash.

But the Hampton University product is eager to show what he can do over a full season, even if he’s coming off the bench to give Cornish a rest.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this year and getting to play more on offence and getting a lot of play on special teams,” Coker added. “Just being on the field, it’s an exciting time for me.”

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