When Willie Felder and Pat Boyd, offensive linemen for the Howard University football team, order pizza, they ask for one extra large with all the toppings -- each.

Felder and Boyd are well fed. Felder, a 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore reserve tackle, reported to preseason practice at 401 pounds. Boyd, a 6-foot junior who will be starting for his third season at left guard, checked in at 340.

On most major college football teams, a pair like that would stand out, but when the Bison put their seven-game winning streak on the line in Saturday's opener against NAIA Newberry College at Greene Stadium (1 p.m.), Felder and Boyd will just blend in on what has to be one of America's biggest teams. Howard lists six players at more than 300 pounds, and its starting offense line averages more than 280 pounds.

Right tackle Roy Pierson is 310 pounds. Alternating left tackles Calvert Thomas and Garry Martin are 295. The defensive line includes tackles Eric Moore (304), highly touted freshmen Bruce Dickerson (330) and Paul Ramseur (310). Nose guard James Moore is 295.

"We let them go all-out at each other at practice this week and you could hear them cracking from all over campus," said offensive line coach Nick Calcutta.

In past years, the Howard coaches became disgruntled with oversized players. Kevin Weeks, a 300-pound senior defensive tackle last year, "almost ate himself off this football team," Coach Willie Jeffries once said. This season, however, the coaches learned to co-exist with those who need special scales -- provided they worked to improve their strength and agility in the offseason.

"Big Willie was on the fat side of 360 when we recruited him," said Jeffries. "Now he is on the muscular side of 400."

Felder, in fact, is said to be one of Howard's most improved players. He started last year's opener against Maine on a humid day at Greene Stadium. He wilted by the third quarter and never again pushed his way up the depth chart.

"I may have rushed him a bit last year, but this year, we think he is ready," said Calcutta. "I know it doesn't make a lot of sense, but he is heavier than he was last year, but better looking because the weight he gained in the weight room is muscle."

Felder, who is mobile enough to be known around campus as a fearsome pickup basketball player, said an endless desire to eat too much food was never his real problem. "Seeing too much food is my problem," said Felder.

Jeffries said last year Felder would call a neighborhood fried chicken restaurant not to place an order, but to reserve his personal seat.

Despite giving away more than 60 pounds to Felder, it is Boyd who is the team's champion eater. He once ate 1 1/2 large pizzas in a sitting.

"I couldn't move too much for a while after that," said Boyd. "But thinking back, it was still worth it."

The reason the Howard coaches have accepted such binges is that their players have learned to make their bulk work to their advantage.

"We come straight at them {opponents} early and make them use their strength against us," said Boyd. "By the third quarter, it usually pays off because we have tired them out."

Although neither Felder nor Boyd is going to skip spring practice to run on the Howard track team's sprint relays, as some of the backs and receivers have done, they are proud of their respective 5.5 and 5.35 times for the 40-yard dash.

"For my size, I don't think you will find another human being as fast as I am," said Felder.

The field, Felder conceded, is not a crowded one.

Bison Notes:

For the opener, the Bison are more concerned about one their smallest players. Lee DeBose, the 5-9 starting quarterback, practiced little this week due to a twisted ankle. If he cannot play against Newberry, which has lost five straight, including a 27-3 defeat against Jacksonville State last week, sophomore John Javis will start.