Aug. 18, 2016
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word –
There is joy to be found in Shamire Devine, the biggest example of Georgia Tech’s push to streamline, but you have to listen closely for it.
At 6-feet-7 and north of 380 pounds, there was too much of the right guard for his coaches’ liking, so his offseason and preseason have been the double-dog days of summer, as he’s tried to cut weight and improve his conditioning.
Make that triple.
The fourth-year junior has worked especially hard to get in better shape since last season, when he started nine games and played in 11. By multiple accounts, Devine’s gaining ground after frequently working out two or three times a day.
Many Yellow Jackets, especially offensive linemen, have become leaner. Devine said he weighed 396 when he came to campus in 2013, when he redshirted, and, “I got down to 70 and . . . I’m like 65, 66 now . . . When I first got here, I was 35 percent body fat and then before camp started, I was 28.9.”
Head coach Paul Johnson noted that Devine “pushed through” a 17-play drive that was part of last Saturday’s inaugural summer scrimmage, mindful that Shamire’s stamina has been an issue in the past.
The story of Shamire often must be attained through tales told by others, as he’s not prone to emote, nor show frustration or elation.
This Jacket doesn’t make much noise; he’s not a big talker. As he strives to mesh with right tackle Trey Klock, Devine is communicating chiefly with his work, more intensity and greater attention to detail.
“They’re starting to understand each other,” offensive line coach Mike Sewak said of the line’s starboard side. “Shamire’s a very quiet kid anyway so he doesn’t get to talk much . . .
“Shamire has done a good job. He seems to try to do a good job. His weight loss hasn’t been ideal, but his body [fat] percent[age] has gone down. I think it’s made him a little bit quicker.”
When Devine does speak, there’s quite a character in there. It turned out a couple says ago when he met with media.
As he moved behind a lectern, his soft voice and easy-going manner activated a hypnotizing presence: “Hey everybody; what’s going on?”
Reporters chuckled because, well, it’s so rare that an interviewee opens as he might if he were sitting down with friends and family for BBQ by the pool.
He sounds like he feels good about what he’s done and yet aspires to more so as to match Sewak’s proclamation that he can be “as good as he wants to be.”
The erstwhile Tri-Cities High School star said, “When my weight’s down, I’m like, ‘Let’s do this.’ Twenty plays later, I’m like, ‘Freddie (Burden), you tired? Let’s go! Let’s go.’
“I can go longer and do certain things that Coach Sewak and Coach Johnson want me to do, like scoop the backside and still get up to the second level. When the weight’s on me, I can only scoop the back side half the time.”
The greatest joy in Devine comes in his singular countenance.
He’s not demonstrative, but nearly somnambulant. Even as he ambles ever so deliberately from practices at the Rose Bowl Field back to the locker room, he can be spotted wearing massive head phones and marching to beats all his own.
A wondrous sense of humor drapes him genuinely. He’s unique in ways that go beyond a gentle giant’s mass, and not contrived. First, he spoke of how a hike in his cardio-vascular capacity brings light to his game.
“Football feels like football, but it’s more fun now,” Devine said when asked how his improved conditioning helps. “Back then, when I was fat, it sucked.”
Yet how did he feel at the end the 17-play drive? Shamire: “Like poo.”
Devine’s journey to where he’s now less like Winnie around the middle, to where he said, “I can just finally see my abs,” has often been lonely.
He said, “After we do our weight work, I get on the treadmill for 20 minutes and on our day off, I went for a walk while everyone else was sleeping.”
Earlier this summer, “It was the normal workout, go to class, workout again, go to work, workout again Monday through Wednesday,” Devine recalled. “Saturday, climb Stone Mountain, come back, take a swim. Sunday, take a day off. Rinse and repeat.”
Shamire also climbed Kennesaw Mountain and, at his summer job, “They had a bunch of boxes and stuff and I just went up there and took out the trash,” he said. “It was fun taking 20-pound boxes 500 feet to the dumpster in the blistering heat. That was a workout itself.”
Sewak is seeing results.
“I think he has a little bit of a twinkle in his eye sometimes. Even in drills, he stepped it up to try to pick up the pace of practice,” the coach said. “I have done [Stone Mountain] with him, yes. He and I have walked a few miles together.”
There is plenty more work coming for the Jackets and Devine, as they re-wire for their game’s unique demands.
“This is how you get yourself in football shape,” Sewak said of long drives and longer practices in searing heat. “You can’t get in football shape running gassers. You can’t get in football shape running sprints.
“You can’t do ladders or any of that stuff because it’s such a physical, intense, raw at-the-point-of-attack energy that you have to have. Then, boom! You have to re-amp it up in seven seconds.”
Devine is sounding the part. He proudly said that when asked to pull, he’s beating quarterback Justin Thomas to the point of attack on wide running plays.
He’ll find time to rest later. It helps that many teammates have been similarly committed to re-shaping. Some join his bonus workouts.
“When you’re the only one running and conditioning and running Stone Mountain, it feels like a chore more than anything else,” Devine said. “When you’ve got people to buy in with you, it feels wonderful. The entire O-line has been down.
“I feel good about my conditioning, but weight-wise I want to be about . . . 360, 355 maybe, by the first snap [Sept. 3 against Boston College in Ireland] . . . I am staying up the entire night before [traveling] so I can sleep the entire flight.”