Joe Semanoff: Blue Collar Man

Every offense has its role players and its "go to guys." The role players contribute in inconspicuous ways that allow the playmakers to put the ball in the end zone. These unselfish workhorses do all the unheralded little things that make the difference between punting and kicking extra points.

Junior fullback Joe Semanoff is one of the guys on the BYU football team that does all the dirty work. He is the one who blows open holes so the tailbacks can rack up yardage. He is the one who takes on linebackers as a lead blocker or as an extra blocker in the pocket. He is not the one hounded by autograph seeking kids after a game, nor is he the one mentioned in the paper the morning after the game.

Semanoff is okay with that role. As long as he can help his team win, he will do whatever is asked of him.

BYU fans will recall the 2005 New Mexico game when Semanoff filled in for a suspended Fahu Tahi. Semanaoff had a 20-yard reception and scored his first collegiate touchdown in a win that was the turning point of the Cougars' season.

With a year under his belt, Semanoff is more comfortable with the new BYU offense. For Semanoff, the year has made a difference, and he feels that if he is called upon to perform during game time situations, he will be more prepared and confident.

"Coming back last year, I felt solid as a running back and I knew the offense well," said Semanoff, "but coming back this year all of these running backs are like my brothers. Also, knowing the offense better than some of these guys and being able to help them out has been fun for me, and not second guessing myself anymore this year.

"When you don't know everything, you kind of start second-guessing yourself. If a linebacker blitzing you start thinking, ‘Oh is that my guy or not?' So you don't get out on routes as fast as you should out of the backfield and stuff like that. This year I know exactly what I have to do and who I have and all those things. Now I'm more quick and snappy because I fully understand my responsibilities. This year I'm just kind of going after it and having more fun. Personally, I think this spring has been a lot more fun for me because of that.

Last year, Semanoff doubled as both a tailback and a fullback. This season, Semanoff joins Manase Tonga as the only two fullbacks in BYU's stable.

"I think Manase Tonga and I both have the confidence and we both know the offense well enough were we could both play tailback if we have to," said Semanoff. "If there is a need for us or a situation where the coaches need us to both to play as the split backs in the backfield, we can both play both sides.

"Manase and I can both catch, run and we can block for the tailbacks if that's what we're needed to do. We're at the point were we can just interchange with each other."

During the season last year, Semanoff gained notoriety for his strength performances in the weight room.

"We have thing called the elite club," said Semanoff. "Where you bench 400-pounds, squat over 500 and clean 300-pounds. I just missed it because I benched 395. I squatted 520-pounds and cleaned 328-pounds. I feel really strong."

At 215 pounds last year, Semanoff has gained more strength and as difficult as that may be, continues to try and add more body mass in order to be a more affective fullback

"The thing that's been a little tougher for me is trying to put a little more weight on," said Semanoff. "Being mostly a fullback with Fui [Vakapuna], Curtis [Brown], Wayne [Latu] and Ray [Hudson] all of these guys provide skill at the running back position. They're all fast and providing depth at that position, so knowing that I'm going to be playing as a fullback exclusively, I'm trying to put some weight on. That's been the toughest thing for me because I have to force myself to eat."

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