Oct. 24, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Julian Royal is gaining knowledge every day, but it's easier to see what the hoopster has lost.
Soon after the former Milton High star arrived at Georgia Tech, head coach Brian Gregory and strength and conditioning coach Mike Bewley invoked a plan for the team's only freshman, not that he would be the only player to be re-shaped.
A few months later, and several pounds lighter, the 6-foot-8 forward looks somewhat like a new young man.
"I think my body fat was about 20 percent, and the goal was to get into single digits," he said. "I think it's under 10 percent. I was at about 238 [pounds] when I got here. I dropped all the way down to 215, and now I'm at about 225."
After shedding unwanted mass, Royal has built back up while packing on some solid muscle. He'll need it. The way the first couple weeks of practice has been going, he's going to spend some time in the paint.
Although Royal figures to spend some time on Tech's perimeter, particularly on offense, he's been working quite a bit with assistant coach Billy Schmidt as he's tutored big men Daniel Miller, Kammeon Holsey and Nate Hicks.
Less weight = more hops.
"Oh yeah. My body feels a lot better. It's completely different," Royal said. "I can move a lot faster, and I'm more flexible, and I can get up higher."
The first game of the regular season is still two and a half weeks away, but you wouldn't know it to talk to Tech's youngest player. He sounds like he can hardly wait for the Nov. 11 opener against Florida A&M at Gwinnett Arena.
"I think like everybody is ready to play. We're ready to go," he said. "We have a big scrimmage Saturday. Really, you know you've got a few things at which you've got to get better, but I think we're all excited."
Royal might not have described himself that way when he began "the plan."
Bewley has molded him not only through training, but diet modification. Royal wasn't fat; just thicker than Gregory would like. So there have been changes in what he does and what he doesn't eat.
"At times, the only thing we were allowed to drink is water. You can't eat sausage and stuff like that," the young man said. "It was no big deal." Scrapping sausage was easier than learning some of the Yellow Jackets' new defensive schemes.
"Learning to play defense at the college level is a lot different for me," he said. "Man [to-man], definitely man. Coach Gregory's defense is hard to explain. You're either in shallow, you're on your man or you're in the `help line.' You're never allowed to be still."
All the Tech players were somewhat familiar with each other's skill sets even before full practices began, but Royal's been impressed by a few teammates now that the Jackets are going full steam.
He squared off several times against Glen Rice Jr. in high school, although Royal is a couple classes younger, and Miller's shown more than expected.
"Definitely, you can see a big change in Glen; he's going after it," Royal said. "And Daniel is more skilled offensively than maybe some people think."
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