EDMONTON - What’s the difference between the offensive and defensive line?
About four months, if you’re Dale Stevenson.
That’s how long it’s taken the former U of A Golden Bears defensive end to pack on about 20 pounds in time for Edmonton Eskimos training camp.
“I was playing defensive end but they said I had a tackle body, so I’m trying to make the switch,” said Stevenson, who has packed 20 pounds onto his six-foot-seven frame since February. “I think I was about 275, and then when they told me I was playing tackle, they told me to get to about 290.”
Make that 292 and climbing.
“It’s a lot of buffets,” he laughed. “I just started doing a different style of workout, more power lifting, heavy weight, lower reps and stuff like that. Just trying to build that muscle, try to get the punch up.”
Stevenson played two years of university football with Gord Hinse and Simeon Rottier, who were both drafted in 2009 — Rottier first overall to Hamilton and Hinse 11th overall to the Eskimos.
“He’s a good guy and it’s been nice to have him here just because he’s taught me a lot and brought me under his wing,” Stevenson said. “That year, we had a great O-line. I don’t think they gave up a sack the whole year.”
And Eskimos offensive line coach Tim Prinsen never gave up on seeing Stevenson become a part of it. Albeit, he had to wait until they were both with another team.
“He was the O-line coach at the U of A and when Gord and Sim were playing, he actually talked to me about trying to switch over,” said Stevenson. “He got his way.”
Eventually, at least.
“I miss it, but I’ve found on the O-line I still get that physicality from it. It’s a different kind of rewarding, but it’s definitely a lot of fun, too,” Stevenson said. “It has helped knowing what to expect from a defensive end, but it’s still a big transition and I’m learning a lot every day.”
Which is the key, said teammate Patrick Kabongo. The veteran right guard is living proof that defensive linemen can make it in the pros on the offensive side of the ball.
“I think knowing that it’s a controlled aggression,” Kabongo said of the hardest part of the transition. “Also, there’s a learning curve and you’ve just got to keep on keeping on every single day. It’s a battle but he can do it. I think he’s doing fine.
“Every day you’ve got to come out and play.”
Which is Stevenson’s goal with switching over in the first place, now that he’s finished all five years of his CIS eligibility.
Happy to stay
“Especially to stay in Edmonton, which his awesome,” said the native of Raymond, who grew up playing basketball and still coaches the sport at Avalon junior high.
He ended up following his older brother, Scott, who was a linebacker at the U of A.
“We played three years together, so that was a lot of fun,” Stevenson said. “He went to a free-agent camp in B.C. and didn’t end up staying. I’ve asked him a little bit. He lives in Edmonton still and he’s come to watch a couple practices and the scrimmage on Saturaday — told me what I was doing wrong.”