Army spring review: Fullback

Army recently completed its first spring practice under new head coach Jeff Monken. ArmySports.com will now review every position, listing the starter, backup and third string player. In this edition we look at the fullbacks.

FULLBACK (B-BACK)

Starter: Larry Dixon Sr.
Back up: Matt Giachinta Jr.
Third String: Aaron Kemper So.
New offensive coordinator Brent Davis option offense is oriented toward the fullback and quarterbacks carrying the ball. He has the right player to handle the load in senior fullback Larry Dixon. Dixon has run for more than 2,000 yards in his career. He has a chance to become the leading fullback rusher in Army history this season.

Dixon looked in mid-season form as he ran for two touchdowns for the Black team in the spring game. He was deservedly named a team captain this year. Dixon missed three games last fall but demonstrated his toughness when he played against Navy with a cast on his broken wrist. Last year Dixon ran 111 times for 705 yards, averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored six times. Dixon is a natural runner with a low center of gravity. He has exceptional balance, a nice burst, is physical and often difficult for one man to tackle. The slimmed down Dixon swore off his favorite snack, pop tarts, last year and was able to carry his speed after breaking free into the secondary. Dixon had touchdown runs of 71-yards against Ball State and 80-yards versus Boston College. Larry had been run down from behind on those types of long running plays the previous two seasons. ArmySports.com had forecast him to develop into a big time contributor in our 2011 R-day preview. He hasn't disappointed.

Junior Matt Giachinta (6-1, 219) opened plenty of eyes on the new staff. He ran with a lot more authority and confidence this spring than he did last fall. Last year Giachinta (27 atts., 112 yards, 4.1 avg., 1 TD) had some problems on mesh handoffs. The overall quality of the B-back play seemed to drop when he played extensive snaps last year. That wasn't the case this spring. He led all rushers in the Black and Gold Spring game with 68 rushing yards. Matt scored on a 17-yard touchdown run. Giachinta looked like a different player this spring and was very impressive running the ball. He is a well-built player who added nearly ten pounds of muscle in the off season.

Sophomore plebe Aaron Kemper was moved back to fullback after playing running back last fall. The short bowling bowl sized Kemper (44 yards, 3.7 avg., TD in 2013) is quick and can block. The 2012 USMAPS MVP fullback appeared in seven games at running back but is a lot better fit at fullback where he played since high school. Kemper is a very short, stocky muscular runner who is solid as a rock. On the field he seems so short that he almost looks like Raymond Maples Mini-Me. Despite his size he is a surprisingly physical runner who can break tackles. Kemper, due to his lack of height, can often get lost behind Army's offensive line making it hard for opposing defenses to see him at times. Kemper lacks breakaway speed but can be an effective runner.

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