Who Plays Fullback?


Who plays fullback?

Simple answer: Jonathan Amosa.

And if Jonathan Amosa gets injured?

Simple answer: Travon Brooks, 6’ 2” 245 lb. true freshman.

And that’s how it works at Washington.  Little or no competition; just make a short list based on who played what last, and move on.


Former Miami Dolphin head coach Jimmy Johnson once said that the head coach’s most important decisions are who plays what position and who starts, and if the coach gets those two right, he’s accomplished a great deal of what he’s been paid to do.

Who plays what position?

Decades ago, the New York Giants drafted an undersized West Virginia offensive lineman in the third round because the guy was extremely tough, and they figured that, in spite of his size, they could use him, probably as a backup.  But with fall practice, it became evident that at 6’ 2” 230 lbs., the player was just too small.  Discouraged, the player decided to quit the team and go back to Edna, W. Virginia to work in a coal mine operation with his father.  Fortunately, a Giants assistant coach, Vince Lombardi, saw enough potential in this player that Lombardi followed the player to the airport and talked him into returning to the team.  The Giants’ defensive coordinator, Tom Landry, eventually put the player at middle linebacker where the player backed up starter Ray Beck.  Later in the season, Ray Beck was injured and, to make a long story short, the back-up, Sam Huff, is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has been the subject of at least one documentary: “The Violent World of Sam Huff.”  Lombardi (five NFL championships and two Super Bowl victories with the Packers) and Landry (20 consecutive winning seasons with the Cowboys) went on to prove time and time again how important player evaluation is, and that they were good at it!

Who can play fullback?

Although barely worthy of mentioning the names Lombardi and Landry, still, let’s emulate them; let’s take a look at some other possible candidates for fullback – guys that are not obvious candidates because, like Huff, they never played that position before.

What qualifications are required?  Hardnosed blocking.  Efficient pass catching.  An ability to really bust one up the gut.

Past role models?  Darius Turner.  Richard Thomas.  Pat Conniff.  Paul Homer.

Potential candidates?  Marlion Barnett.  Nick Holt Jr.  Jarett Finau.  Ben Teichman.

Why them?

Marlion Barnett is an undersized tight end, an H-back (a position invented by Washington Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs in an attempt to delay or stop former Giants outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor) who will not see much playing time because of the depth and talent at tight end, and the versatility of Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  Yet Barnett is a good player (but not really big enough for tight end), especially as a pass catcher (although not fast enough for receiver), and trying him at fullback might pay dividends.

Freshman linebacker Nick Holt’s best game at Seattle Prep was when he was switched from QB to tailback on offense last fall against Eastside Catholic.  It took him the first half to get acclimated to the position but ultimately he ran for nearly 250 yards, and afterwards Eastside Catholic coach Jason Gesser stated, “They’ve got one guy; it’s no secret,” but Eastside Catholic couldn’t stop that one guy.  Holt is tough and talented, and fullback might be where he could help Washington and himself the most.

Defensive end Jarett Finau was recruited as either an outside linebacker, defensive end or tight end and, at 6’ 2” 254 lbs., has been on defense thus far but, with the upperclassmen defensive talent, Finau will probably see a redshirt year if he stays where he is.  Fullback?  Why fullback?  He can run.  He can block.  He can catch.  He reminds some fans of former Seahawks fullback Leonard Weaver who came to camp an undrafted free agent tight end in 2005, was switched to fullback, started after Mack Strong retired, and, after signing with Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent (at the time, the highest contract ever for a fullback), started at fullback in the 2010  Pro Bowl.  Trying Finau at fullback might prove interesting.

Ben Teichman?  Who’s Ben Teichman?  He’s a 5’ 11” 277 lb. walk-on O-lineman from Danville, California.  When watching video on Teichman last winter, it was evident Teichman was athletic and ran well.  Although undersized for an O-lineman, he’s hardnosed and strong – Teichman benches over 350 lbs., squats around 600 lbs. and power cleans over 350 lbs.  He’s also dedicated and bright.  He knows how to put his helmet on people.  Catching the ball?  No way of knowing unless he’s tried at the new position.  His size makes his O-line future uncertain but Ben Teichman at fullback?  It wouldn’t hurt to see what happens.  Keith Price, Nick Montana or any of the tailbacks wouldn’t mind having a 277 lb. hardnosed fullback between them and the bad guys.

Who plays fullback?  The coaches will no doubt experiment.  The above discussion is obviously speculative, and how the fullback position plays-out remains to be seen but, following the advice of Jimmy Johnson with respect to putting the best players on the field, there could be a surprise.