Late in the seventh round of the NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills took a shot on a little-known lineman from Bethel University in Tennessee named Michael Jasper, the kind of player it would be easy to overlook — at least, if he didn’t play college football weighing nearly 450 pounds.
The Tennessean has a story today about Jasper’s journey from Bethel to the NFL and from a high of 448 pounds to a svelte 375, and it includes details like the fact that Bethel didn’t have a scale that would register higher than 400 pounds, so when Jasper needed to monitor his progress in trying to lose weight, he’d go to the McKenzie Feed & Grain Store.
“He’d step up on our platform feed scale and customers would start coming over, gathering to see what he weighed,” said Dan Bradford, owner of the store. “We’d have a big time with it.”
Bethel listed Jasper at 390 pounds, but he was actually quite a bit bigger than that. Bethel is an NAIA school, and its football roster lists defensive linemen as small as 190 pounds, so Jasper was more than twice the size of some of the guys he was blocking in practice.
The 6-foot-5 Jasper (who played guard in college but is expected to play defensive tackle in Buffalo) says that when the Bills were scouting him, coach Chan Gailey told him he had NFL talent but he needed to slim down. Still, he doesn’t think he can get much lower than 375.
“[Bills scout] Matt Hand made a deal with me initially saying they wanted me under 400 pounds,” Jasper said. “After the draft I talked with coach Gailey and he said just to keep working hard and keep the weight off. . . . I haven’t talked to anyone from the Bills since the draft, but me and my trainer don’t know if we want me to get down to 360 pounds or anywhere near that. The way my body is, I’m not a regular 360-pound man.”