Adding weight, force

Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 199 pounds, Quentin Davie arrived at Northwestern as a freshman looking more like the small forward who had just helped his high school basketball team to a state championship than the punishing linebacker the Wildcats football coaches thought he could be.

Following two years of a whole lot of lifting weights, day after day of stepping onto a scale and the mass consumption of any protein he could get his hands on, Davie no longer looks like a hoopster from Cardinal Ritter High School in St. Louis, Mo.

Still 6-3, but now 230 pounds with 9 percent body fat, the junior looks and hits like a linebacker who can do damage in the Big Ten this season.

"He's got a lot bigger, a lot thicker," Northwestern linebackers coach Randy Bates said. "Physically, he's a lot more mature. It was just a matter of a time. He came from a high school where basketball was just as big as football. We knew he had the athletic ability. We projected him to be as big as he is. It was a matter of him growing into his body."

Growing was naturally involved, but mostly it was Davie dedicating himself to Northwestern's designated plan for him. He had to eat the right foods, especially those with proteins. He carried peanuts and cashews with him to class. He drank vitamin shakes. He followed strength and conditioning director Larry Lilja's workouts step-by-step.

And then every day, there was a moment of truth for Davie. At the stadium, he stepped on a scale and weighed himself. Often, the number he stared at wasn't one he was hoping for.

"It was definitely frustrating," he said.

Finally, after last season, the scale started to tip in his favor. He had played at 215 pounds as a sophomore, and it steadily increased.

"It was great to see it was finally paying off," said Davie, who had 57 tackles and 9½ tackles for loss last season. "It felt like everything I was doing wasn't going to be a waste. #&133; The thing that motivated was football. I wanted to be a great player. I wanted that size to go with me."

The final touches of his current frame came this offseason in workouts with Corey Wootton, the team's star defensive end. Davie and Wootton did what was asked of them and then did some more. They'd run, find ways to add inches to their biceps, put in work on their abs and triceps. They even made it a competition, and in doing so, pushed each other.

In Saturday's season-opening win against Towson, Davie debuted his physique. As Bates and he had hoped, Davie flew around the field and knocked around everyone in his sight with his new weight. He led the Wildcats with nine tackles (four solo, five assisted) and 1½ tackles for loss despite also adjusting to playing his first game at inside linebacker after playing the previous two seasons outside.

"On the field, I was feeling pretty good," Davie said. "I had a couple hard hits. I feel much better now. I can go on the beach now and get a lot more looks. I feel more powerful, stronger than I did. It feels great to be 30 pounds heavier."

Davie isn't done yet, though. He would like to put on another 10 pounds while keeping his body fat the same.

"The beautiful thing about Quentin is he's got two more years," Bates said. "The sky is the limit."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.