After a successful career at the University of Texas where he won the Doak Walker award for being the best running back in the country, D’Onta Foreman opted for the NFL Draft. In the coming months, he will chronicle his journey through the draft and into the season for Men’s Health in a weekly column. Here, he talks about preparing for his upcoming pro-day where he will showcase his athletic ability for scouts.
When I arrived at the EXOS Gym in Gulf Breeze, Florida, in early January, I had recently been honored with the Doak Walker Award for being the top running back in the nation, an honor I was incredibly proud of and that I worked extremely hard to obtain from day one at the University of Texas. I was proud of my accomplishments, but that wasn’t enough.
I could outrun most guys in college. I was fast and at 246 pounds, I was tough to bring down. The Texas nutrition staff educated and advised me on what to eat, but it was on me to put that plan into action. They were always on me about my diet, but with so much on my plate in addition to football, I didn’t have the time or resources to devote to make substantial changes to my diet.
The student-athlete schedule didn’t allow much time to cook. I mainly grabbed quick meals in the cafeteria and ended up eating a classic college diet. When I did cook, I didn’t know what I was doing. Not that I couldn’t cook, I didn’t know what to cook. I didn’t know what was healthy and what went well together. Groceries were on my dime so if I didn’t like a purchase that was money wasted out my pocket. Since it wasn’t slowing me down, I didn’t think anything of it.
I remember my dad’s words echoing in my mind as I pulled-up to EXOS. He always told me, “You can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results.” I was fast, but I could be faster. I wanted to take things up a notch and to become the best version of myself. That is where EXOS came in.
Eating clean and fueling my body better was one of the roads I took toward that goal. I pushed myself in the weight room and on the field five days a week. Now I needed to eat right, too. The team at EXOS helped me put together a nutrition plan that allowed me to still have my favorite meals to an extent, just with a few tweaks.
The goal was reducing my body fat percentage and building lean muscle. I wanted to focus on longevity, something Texas alumni had instilled in me. No one knows how long they’ll be in the NFL, but you have to focus on what you can control, and that’s just what I did.
The nutritionists at EXOS worked with me to get meals tweaked to my liking. For the most part, I stuck to salmon with mixed veggies, brown rice, and a slice of bacon. I’ve been eating that most days for lunch and dinner. It tastes really good and I never get tired of it. Wednesdays and Sundays were my cheat days so I explored the local restaurants and tried more new foods. Florida seafood is good stuff. I also started cooking more because I knew what healthy foods I enjoyed.
Eating cleaner made me feel better physically and mentally, but eating the right foods was only part of the solution. I was 246 pounds when I arrived to EXOS. At 6’0” tall, that was a lot of weight to carry with me. A lot of weight that as fast as I felt in college, actually slowed me down. In about two months, I had cut 13 pounds and built muscle mass. I felt leaner, I was able to move faster, and it showed. Then came my biggest job interview to date: the NFL Scouting Combine.
The combine was my chance to showcase my healthier, faster form side-by-side with the best college football players in the nation. All of my training had led to this moment. I had been eating well and even avoided my favorite meal: Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen fried chicken with a biscuit. That was going to be my reward for the work I had put in and it was waiting for me at the end of the Combine, but things did not go as planned.
I was in the best shape of my life, and ready to perform; however, during the medical evaluation, doctors discovered a minor stress fracture in my left foot. This was the first I had heard of it. My trainers never saw it and I couldn’t even feel it. NFL team doctors that evaluated me had no concerns or reservations about the severity of the injury or my participating in the events, but the NFL Scouting Combine as a blanket policy didn’t allow me to participate further.
That was tough to swallow. I was ready to compete. I felt strong. I felt fast. I was disappointed, but I returned to EXOS and got back to the grind right where I had left off. I trained there until a few days ago when I returned to Austin ahead of my pro day on Tuesday.
I’m gunning for a 4.40 40-yard dash. I am excited to show how trimming down to a lighter 230-pounds and leaner muscle mass has made me faster and more agile. All of this accomplished through eating well and working hard in training.
Until Tuesday, I’ll be back home in Austin, waiting for my time to shine and looking forward to that long-awaited fried chicken I’ve been craving since January.