Georgia Tech defensive end KeShun Freeman woke up, hopped out of bed and realized that he’s putting on some weight.
“I hit the floor pretty hard,” he said. “I was like, Oh, I’m getting heavy.”
Freeman, whose weight had dropped to as low as 220 pounds at the end of his freshman All-America season, is now up to 241 pounds, thanks to work in the weight room and healthful eating. Freeman was 240 at the beginning of last season, but dropped to 230 after preseason camp and continued to fall as the season progressed (not an unusual sequence). Despite it, Freeman led the Yellow Jackets in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (9.5).
“I’m fine,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to lose my speed or anything.”
He credited better diet, as well.
“It’s easy to go to a restaurant like McDonald’s or a Cookout and get a cheap meal, but sometimes you have to pay for the things that are really good for your body,” he said.
Freeman’s added heft on his 6-foot-1 frame was one of several updates provided in a recent interview.
Freeman went with a team of 19 Tech athletes to the Dominican Republic in May after the end of the semester on a service mission. Another team of athletes had gone earlier over winter break on a trip led by the Tech chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Freeman helped build a modest two-bedroom home for a family during the team’s five-day visit, replacing what he described as a metal shack that the family had lived in previously. (Freeman’s job was helping build the frame of the roof and then painting and installing windows.)
“It was very small, but to them it was like a mansion,” Freeman said. “It was so cool to see. In America, if you see someone building a house across the street, we don’t typically just go over to help. It was cool to see all their neighbors and all the people in the community come together to help us build a house.”
Freeman described the experience as life-changing, seeing a level of poverty that he had only previously seen on television. He said it helped him realize the conveniences and luxuries that he has taken for granted living in the U.S. He mentioned, for instance, that the mother of the family whose house he helped build was given the keys to the home, but had never used a key before. He experienced life without hot water and plumbing.
“It was a humbling experience,” he said. “It changed your view about everything.”
Summer workouts are “going pretty awesome,” Freeman reported. “Looking around, everybody, their weight is increasing and people are lifting more, people are becoming stronger, faster. And that’s the kind of production that we need to go into the season.”
When he spoke, Freeman hadn’t been tested for his max on the squat lift, but he was confident he could lift more than his max of 485 pounds. Freeman has always hated squats, but said he has worked on it a lot and improved his technique.
“I feel like I can do a lot more because I’m now repping way close to 485 pounds,” he said.
Defensive line drilling
Defensive linemen are getting together twice a week to work on line techniques.
“I really am trying to work on different pass rush moves and everything because I think pass rush is going to be a real big key on the defensive line,” he said. “We’ve been working on a few things this year and I know that our guys are ready to take on more things this summer.”
An improved pass rush is indeed critical. In part because quarterbacks often had time to throw against Tech’s four-man pass rushes, the opposition completed 62.9 percent of its passes last season, which ranked 109th out of 128 FBS teams.
In particular, Freeman has been focusing on his first step off the snap, “because your first step is really what’s going to help you with your pass rush,” he said. “After I make my first step, I’m thinking about, What move am I going to have (to counter the first move)?”
Freeman has also been using his time this summer to watch video of pass-rush techniques. Tech’s video system is set up in a way, Freeman said, that players can look up clips of specific types of moves.
“Let’s say you want to do a club or a chop or whatever,” he said. “You go in the system, you look for that and it’ll be like a whole bunch of cut-ups using the chop move. It’s pretty cool.”
Notes from the remainder of the interview will be posted Thursday.