Vince Wilfork is as big as ever. But this offseason, he took great pains to move the big around.
The Patriots nose tackle spent more time than ever remaking his body, from his conditioning to his diet, and the results are obvious every day when he gets dressed.
‘‘The biggest difference is that my shirts fit a lot better,’’ Wilfork said with a laugh, to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. ‘‘But on the field, I don’t think it’s changed much, but some people may disagree. Nobody knows my body better than me.
“I’ve always been in great shape my whole career [including] college, high school. I’ve always been in good shape to play football. But the weight shift, you can say from a look standpoint, it’s noticeable.”
Wilfork is still a large man, still plenty stout to hold up as a nose tackle. And he played 977 snaps last year, so clearly he has endurance. But with the Patriots bringing in young parts around him, he’s picked up his efforts to stay at a high level.
‘‘This year, I had a main focus of concentrating on my core,’’ Wilfork said. ‘‘I’m not saying I have a six-pack or anything, but I’m pretty satisfied and pretty happy how it’s gone. And while my weight hasn’t changed, it’s shifted. I worked very hard on it. I don’t want to boast about or make a big deal out of it, but I worked hard on it through the offseason.’’
That included chopping trees and pulling logs, but lumberjack work alone wouldn’t change the way the mammoth lineman looked. That’s a credit to sports nutritionist Ted Harper, who was hired by the team this year.
His meals are carefully measured and portioned, and since it’s the Patriots, there’s even a mystery food which Wilfork wouldn’t reveal.
“I’m not going to give that out,’’ he said.
Wilfork has reasons for getting in better shape that have nothing to do with battling guards and centers as well. His father died at 48 from kidney failure after battling diabetes, and Wilfork wants to be prepared for life after football.
‘‘That runs deeply in African-Americans in general, and a lot more cultures,’’ Wilfork said. ‘‘But my family history, that’s always a topic of discussion between my wife and I. Knock on wood, I’ve been healthy. . . . I haven’t been diagnosed. I’m a big, healthy man. That’s how I want to be.
“A lot of people have opinions on what I need to do. Trust me, I have goals every year of what I want to accomplish. I’m pretty healthy to be a big guy.’’
He’s also pretty effective, and the changes he’s made should enable him to be for more years to come.