March 6, 2007
By Glenn Guilbeau
BATON ROUGE -- Briggitte Mosley has been serving LSU athletes their meals for 24 years and she cannot remember a vegetarian football player.
Keiland Williams, who opened spring drills as the No. 1 tailback, is the first.
LSU running back Keiland Williams (5) is something that's rare among
football players -- he's a vegetarian. (Alex Brandon/AP)
"We've had quite a few in the other sports who are vegetarian -- mainly women," Mosley said Tuesday after the lunch rush. "He's one that's been different because he's a football player. All I see him eat is vegetables and salads and red beans and white beans."
Without steaks and other red meat in his diet, the 5-foot-11, 223-pound does not get all the protein of his teammates.
"He gets his protein from the beans as long as they're mixed with rice," Mosley said. "We have beans for them every day along with black-eyed peas, lima beans. We have a wide variety of vegetables daily."
Shelly Mullenix, who is a dietician for the football players, has been on LSU's athletic training staff for a decade. She has also never worked with a vegetarian football player.
"No, I haven't," Mullenix said during a break at practice Tuesday. Mullenix worked at Florida State before she came to LSU and worked as a consultant with the Miami Dolphins the last two years when former coach Nick Saban was there.
"It's extremely rare," she said. "But it has not been a problem with Keiland or I would have heard about it."
The sculpted Williams was a little too cut for LSU running backs coach Larry Porter's tastes toward the end of last season. He told Williams to put on about five pounds to start spring practice. But Williams, a former Northside High back from Lafayette who gained 436 yards last season as a freshman, did not run over to Ruth's Chris.
"I just wasn't eating healthy enough because I don't eat meat," Williams said. "I wasn't getting the right protein in my body so I played under a little bit. I've got it back on now, and I'm looking forward to playing at this weight."
Williams didn't make his vegetarian choice to be politically correct or cool or to lose weight. He just hasn't liked meat since he was a little kid.
"I've been told I analyze things too much," he said. "And I guess I just think about where meat comes from. I don't want to eat that."
Unfortunately, Williams did not have a choice at his family's training table while growing up.
"As a little kid, I had to eat meat," he said. "My parents determined what I could eat. But when I got to the age that I could determine what I could eat, I just kind of shied away from it."
Looking at Williams, he does not look mal-nourished in the least.
"He's got a great body," Mullenix said. "Look at those legs. "Williams showed he could get to the corner better than any other back last year,
particularly in the Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame. He gained 107 yards on 14 carries with touchdown runs of 20 and 3 yards.
"Keiland is a very explosive back," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I think his extra weight, five or seven pounds, will help him. He's having a very good spring."
Competition is everywhere Williams turns, though. Rayville's Richard Murphy, who was red-shirted last season as a freshman, has impressed Miles and so has Charles Scott, who played last year as a freshman. There's always Jacob Hester, who will be a senior next season and continues to work at tailback and fullback.
"Some of us do things better than others," Williams said. "So you're going to have to split time. But it'd be a great thing to carry it 20 or 25 times a game."
There could have been even more competition, but Joe McKnight chose USC over LSU. About a year ago at this time, Williams chose LSU over USC.
"It really wasn't something that we thought about," Williams said of McKnight's decision. "If he would've come or not, we would have all still pushed each other."