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Football: LeCharles Bentley transforming Pat Elflein into top center ahead of NFL draft

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When Pat Elflein announced he was returning to the Ohio State football team in 2016, he and then-redshirt sophomore guard Billy Price were the only two returning members for the Buckeyes. Coaches decided that Elflein would be shifting to play center, a move which could have seen the Pickerington, Ohio, native fall flat on his face in his final year of eligibility.

Instead, Elflein is now considered the third-best center in this year’s draft, and is projected as high as a third-round pick according to Walterfootball.com.

A staple of the offensive line last season for the Buckeyes and the unquestioned leader of “The Slobs,” Elflein has been criticized for a lack of strength and occasionally slow feet. Said to give up too much room and lack speed, Elflein arrived at OSU’s Pro Day with a much trimmer and impressive physique.

“It’s all diet,” he said. “Diet, obviously training hard with great trainer, great coach LeCharles Bentley. It’s just all about the way you eat, what you’re putting in your body and training hard.”

Bentley, a former four-year letterwinner for OSU from 1998-2001, owns and runs O-Line Performance, a training center for upcoming NFL lineman hopefuls. Although Elflein was listed at 303 pounds during the combine after being listed at 300 pounds during the season, he has made a clear change in his physicality.

Elflein anchored the middle of the offensive line last season, and Price said not having him next season will be a tough pill to swallow.

“I’m going to try and follow Pat’s step, Pat’s lead,” Price said. “The transformation I’ve been able to make over four years, following behind Pat — that’s going to be tough losing him.”

With his change in physique, Elflein might have gained some of the strength he lacked at the combine. Whomever takes a chance on him is still a mystery, but he will likely hear his name called in the middle rounds of the draft.

Even with the steps forward in his diet, Elflein said he still allows himself just one cheat meal every now and then.

“Roosters,” Elflein said with a smile.

The Pickerington native said he was actually at Rooster’s last year watching the draft when teammate, and friend, Taylor Decker was drafted in the first round. While he won’t be there this season, he’s still hoping for the chain chicken fingers restaurant to keep him in mind.

“Please sponsor me,” he said. “I’ll be your wingman.”

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