MORGANTOWN - Quinton Spain, with his mammoth size, has always looked like a man among boys, even against the backdrop of college linemen.
Now, Spain said, it is time for him to be that man among men, to be the leader of an inexperienced group of offensive linemen in West Virginia University's football training camp.
"I have to take a big leadership role," Spain said. "Most of them are younger guys, so I have to teach them through film and after practice."
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen liked what he saw from Spain during the summer workouts, so much so that Spain accompanied him to Texas for the Big 12 Conference's pre-season media days.
"He has matured," Holgorsen said. "He had a phenomenal off-season, and he was one of our vocal leaders."
The Petersburg, Va., product has come a long way from his first days on the Morgantown campus, a time when it was only his size -- listed at 6 feet 6 inches tall and 330-plus pounds -- that stood out.
"I know when he was first here, I wasn't, but the stories I heard was about 390 pounds," Holgorsen said. "When I first came here, he wasn't a starter for the first year. But he has really improved himself."
Spain said his weight is down to about 335 pounds, thanks to the intense conditioning program led by strength coach Mike Joseph. That work has earned him a shot at starting at one of the tackle position.
"I did the extra work in the weight room and did the extra conditioning," Spain said. "I move a lot quicker than I used to and am a lot stronger."
That extra strength could come in handy as they will have to clear a path for a stellar stable of running backs or protect a relatively inexperienced quarterback.
"They look bigger, they look stronger and they look more fit," offensive line coach Ron Crook said. "They move well, and they have a lot more quickness to them and more agility. The guys did a great job buying into what we've been talking to them about and teaching them to do."
Holgorsen said the coaches have created a temporary depth chart and starting lineup, but said that will be a constantly changing document as training camp progresses.
"Pat Eger and Nick Kindler are acting and playing starters, which is going to create depth," Holgorsen said. "They are two swing guys who can play either one of the tackle spots. Spain and Curtis Feigt have both got their bodies in phenomenal shape, but Kindler is not going to concede the battle to them. We have three centers that have not played a lot of ball there. Stone Underwood is learning and has a long way to go. Tony Matteo is snapping the ball well, and Tyler Orlosky is a freshman. We just need to keep working to see who is going to win that job."
Feigt said the freshmen competing for the center spot have had no problems calling signals for the offensive line. He said all of the linemen, newcomers to veterans, need to pick up the pace.
"All of us have a sense of urgency," Feigt said. "All of us know we have to get better."