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August 15, 2012

Bond's Big Summer

One can argue that UNC senior offensive lineman Travis Bond had a big summer, but you can't apply that particular phrase to the size of the man himself because he didn't get bigger.

Bond actually got smaller between the end of the spring season this past April and the start of August's training camp.

Around 40 pounds smaller, to be precise.

"I feel like a different person. Coming in, when we first came in after the (Independence) bowl and got ready for early winter training I was about 372 (pounds)," Bond told Tar Heel Illustrated this week.

"I kind of felt that wasn't going to work, so just a little extra after practice, coming in with the treadmill, weekends---I just never took a day off---so that helped a lot coming into this new offense."

At 370-plus pounds, Bond was in a position where he could lose a great deal of weight quickly if he just dedicated himself to it.

"It wasn't that tough to do, you know. I just had to get after it," he said. "We grinded all summer. I've got to thank (strength and conditioning) coach Lou (Hernandez) for the hard week."

"We went through the process of working out extra on weekends. We did treadmill every days, did a little extra stuff on the hill, came out here with the some of the DBs, Terry Shankle and Alex Dixon."

Getting in significantly better shape has been vital for Bond so far in camp, as he's found himself getting work not only at the right guard position, but also at right tackle with Brennan Williams limited through the first week and a half of practices.

"Travis, I don't know how many reps he's getting in practice, but I know he's not coming off the field. He's going with the ones. He's having to bounce out to tackle with the 'twos.' He's getting a lot of reps. And he wouldn't have been able to do that at 370 pounds," UNC head coach Larry Fedora said of Bond last week.

"It's been pretty fun (playing tackle again)," Bond said. "I haven't played tackle in a while. I'm just out there just trying to grind, get better and make my teammates better. I'm doing what the coaches ask me to do. If I need to play left guard, I'll go there, too. Me doing guard and tackle could help the team if anything else happens in the future."

"This offensive staff, they're running the spread, no-huddle type offense, so coming in thinking about it, I was thinking, 'Well, I've got to lose some weight if you want to run this offense and be effective,'" he added. "I think anybody that loses 40 pounds, I think they'll feel good running this type of offense. I feel a lot better."

"People that have been questioning my weight, they can come out here and get a look and see if you don't believe that I've lost 40-plus pounds," Bond continued. "I feel pretty good about that."

With a little more jump in his step, as well as renewed strength and increased flexibility, agility, and stamina, Bond is just a flat-out better football player right now than even in the spring time.

The return of Williams solidifies Bond's place back at right guard, and both seniors are in position to be on the field just about all the time the UNC offense is on the field this fall as long they stay healthy.

"Things are looking pretty good. A lot of guys are getting a lot of reps. The O-linemen, we've got to do what we've got to do," Bond said. "It's getting a little more solid. But guys have still got to step up and do their job. They have to."

Being surrounded by teammates such as Williams, Jonathan Cooper, James Hurst, and Russell Bodine, who he's all played with multiple years, has made Bond's work this summer a little bit easier.

"That helps a lot when it comes to big games. Experienced offensive linemen is what helps win games," Bond said.

"It helps because we know what each guy is going to bring to the table, you know. Each one of us, we've got a job we've got to do, so we go out there. so we go out there and we get the job done. And we just help one another."

"The chemistry is great," he added. "I think we've come along pretty great coming in the spring, not really knowing what we were doing just doing what they were asking us to do. I think coming into the fall we know a lot more about the offense that they just put in."

"The chemistry, like I said, everybody is going well. The defense is stepping up. The offense is stepping up. So I'm looking forward to a great fall."

Time flies during the college years, but for Bond, he's looking fondly on his time as a Tar Heel while also excited and confident about what he hopes will be a future starting next year in the National Football League.

"It's been a long time coming (my senior year at UNC)," he said. "This will be missed. I'm a Tar Heel until I die now. I love the experience. I've loved all four years I've played here. So I look forward to the future."

"I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss those I've played with, but I plan on continuing my career at the next level," he added.

Before he moves on to the next level, Bond has a couple of team-specific goals that he's shooting for in his final autumn in the powder blue. And he's not being modest.

"First things first, I want Gio (Bernard) to have almost 2,000 yards if not more. I just also want to win 12 games," he said. "And I just want everybody to be good this year. It's my last year, and you want to leave that legacy behind."




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