During last year’s training camp, Virginia Tech’s Andrew Lanier was thrust into the starting left tackle role after projected starter Nick Becton went down in August with a turf toe injury. Since then, Lanier has not only kept the starting job despite Becton’s return to full health, the redshirt senior has also transformed into one of the more interesting characters on the team.

At spring practice, Lanier debuted an odd-looking mullet that would have made Dog the Bounty Hunter or Kenny Powers proud. Though he had gotten a haircut by the time we spoke with him following the Hokies’ first training camp practice Thursday, Lanier was still sporting a handlebar mustache that may not have flown if, say, he played for Randy Edsall at Maryland.

But perhaps the most intriguing part about Lanier is his new physique now that the regular season is less than a month away. The Moore, S.C., native, who came to the Hokies as a tight end, is now tipping the scales at 306 pounds. That’s 24 more than his listed weight during spring practice. So how did he do it?

“A lot of eating,” Lanier said with a sheepish grin. “This summer consisted of a lot of late meals, like Taco Bell and McDonald’s. I didn’t want to get too fat but I was definitely eating kind of sloppy. I just took what the coaches said and ran with it. They told me to put on some weight and I did.”

Lanier struggled to keep weight on a year ago, and even though he started all 14 games at left tackle, his build more resembled the tight end he was in high school. That isn’t the case anymore.

Lanier said despite putting on additional weight, his body fat composition remains almost identical to when he weighed 282 pounds in 2010 — about 23 percent.

“I’m happy about that, but I’m surprised also because I was eating a lot of fast food,” Lanier said.

But it wasn’t just the coaching staff that prompted Lanier to pack on some pounds this offseason. He even noticed that he didn’t quite weigh enough to be an elite left tackle.

“I felt there was times I was overpowered when I shouldn’t have been, and even just coming out [Thursday] not in full pads, I felt more comfortable with my physical tools,” Lanier said.

Not to be outdone, Lanier’s main competition also added some weight to his frame this summer. Becton put on 13 pounds and now tips the scales at 326 pounds — tied with transfer Brent Benedict as the heaviest player on the team.

“Becton wasn’t here the first session of summer so he was probably getting a lot of home-cooked meals,” Lanier said. “I wish I could’ve gone home and eaten with him.”

The Hokies’ two left tackles weren’t the only guys to change their playing weight this offseason. Below you’ll find a list of notable players who saw their weight increase or decrease the most since spring practice.

Biggest Gainers
LT Andrew Lanier (+24 to 306 pounds)
DT Isaiah Hamlette (+17 to 291 pounds)
LB Telvion Clark (+14 to 228 pounds)
LT Nick Becton (+13 to 326 pounds)
FS Eddie Whitley (+13 to 200 pounds)
S Theron Norman (+13 to 209 pounds)
RB Dominique Patterson (+13 to 236 pounds)
G Laurence Gibson (+13 to 312 pounds)
LB Brian Laiti (+12 to 217 pounds)
WR Dyrell Roberts (+11 to 196 pounds)
PK Cody Journell (+11 to 178 pounds)
LB Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (+10 to 205 pounds)

Biggest weight loss
LS Colin Carroll (-16 to 232 pounds)
TE Randall Dunn (-15 to 228 pounds)
DE J.R. Collins (-13 to 240 pounds)
LB Bruce Taylor (-9 to 243 pounds)