When Dawson Lamb walked onto the football field for spring practice, you noticed the difference right away.
He had grown from a slender, average-sized junior to a heavily-muscled senior. Thanks to diet and exercise, he had added at least 25 pounds on his frame; much-needed weight to withstand the rigors of playing inside linebacker.
Lamb tallied eight tackles and added a couple of pass break-ups, and was a big reason why Carson opened the 2017 season with a 14-13 win over Lewiston last weekend in Pocatello, Idaho.
“He played a heck of a game,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “He deflected a couple of passes, including one late in the game that could have gone for a long gainer or a touchdown.”
The change actually started at the tail end of the 2016 season when he started the final three games in place of the injured Justin Tschetter. The extended playing time helped him rack up 49 tackles, including 11 against Douglas and 10 against Reno. Those three games also showed him he needed to get bigger, stronger and faster.
“I got into the gym everyday in the off-season after basketball ended,” Lamb said earlier this week. “I ate a lot more. I didn’t really change my diet much, just ate a lot more protein.”
As a result, he’s improved his back squat by 70 pounds and his bench press by 40 pounds. Pretty impressive numbers.
“Those guys (offensive linemen) up front are big,” Lamb said. “I needed to get bigger to deal with that. I feel more comfortable in the middle because I’ve played there more. Besides, Richie (Romero) and Abel (Carter) do a great job on the outside.
“I was able to get a lot of experience last year. It spiked my knowledge of the game. It showed the intensity I had to play at to be successful and to contribute to the team and be the best player I could be.”
Roman obviously has noticed the difference.
“He has improved a lot from last year,” Roman said. “He did a lot of work in the weight room, and he’s gotten a lot faster. He is way ahead of where he was last year. He is an instinctive linebacker.
“He’s at 195 (or more) and last year he was at 165. He is that much tougher. He has gained a lot of muscle. One of the biggest compliments I can give him is that he’s always in the right spot.”
That’s the instinct part of the game. It comes from several different sources — film study, reps and physical ability. They all go hand in hand.
“I’ve been playing football a long time, and I think instincts come from that,” Lamb said. “I think they are natural.”
And, more reps means better play recognition, and that stems from film study and going against scout teams in practice. The more you see something, the easier it’s to recognize.
One thing easy to recognize is Lamb swarming to the ball and bringing a runner to the ground.