Gophers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell was a 6-5, 210-pound string bean when he was playing at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College two years ago. He played at about 220 pounds last year in his first Big Ten season.

Today, he said, he weighed in at 239.7 pounds.

"I lost about a pound, but I’m trying to get back up to where I was," the junior from Fort Myers, Fla., said. "I think my highest [weight] over the summer was 243. I’m trying to stay up, you know. I gained about 20 pounds from last fall. I’m just trying to keep it up there, so I can become a better player."

Campbell made 41 tackles in 13 games last year and started three times but wound up sharing time with James Manuel, who has since graduated. This year, he's expected to become an every down player, alongside senior middle linebacker Damien Wilson.

"I feel a lot more comfortable because last year I was a lot more timid," Campbell said. "Because of my weight, I wasn’t comfortable playing at that weight. But now that I’ve got my weight up, I can actually play how I want to play, be more of a downhill player, taking on fullbacks, linemen."

Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys added: "I think the strength part of it is what’s helped him the most. He’s so much stronger."