STARTER: DRAKE KULICK
BACK-UP: BRADY ROSS
2015 GRADE: A+
ANALYSIS: A perfect score for the fullback position in 2015 because they were fantastic. There's nothing else more you could have asked out of seniors Adam Cox and Macon Plewa. Both were on top of their game in 2015. They punished people.
It is such an important position for Iowa. They had problems with the spot in 2014 and they couldn't protect as well or run the ball as well. It flourished in 2015 and everything else on the offense opened up. The protections were improved, even with two new offensive tackles, and the running game was one of the best in the country.
It certainly helped they could stay fresh since there were two great ones they could throw out there in Cox and Plewa. Having two seniors at the position that could both play at a high level was quite a luxury for the Hawkeyes. They stayed fresh and they steered the vehicle downhill all season. Cox's numbers on Pro Football Focus were actually better but I thought Plewa was the most effective and the one that was more irreplaceable.
Want to know why the running game was beastly in 2015? The arrow should be pointed at these two guys first and foremost.
OUTLOOK: Boy, people aren't talking about this spot enough. The toughest guys to replace at any position on this team might be Cox and Plewa. They were fantastic and they were the engine that powered the car on offense. Iowa has to replace both and there's not even a scholarship player at this spot to step in and take the reins.
It's a tough job to come in and replace the two departing seniors but the one that will get the first shot is Drake Kulick. He hasn't played much, if at all. He'll have a tall task and a lot of responsibiliity to man from the jump. Brady Ross is the listed backup at this time. It would not surprise me if one of the true freshmen get tried at fullback. There's a lot of position flexibility in the incoming class. There's a few that could possible project at fullback, such as Kristian Welch, Austin Schulte, or Barrington Wade.
They do like Barrington Wade as a linebacker and Schulte could be a project they tack weight on so he can play on the defensive line. That leaves Welch. He's someone that is placed at linebacker for now but he could bounce around some early on in his Hawkeye career.
Either way, this is a big storyline. And they'll want to figure out early in the Spring if this is a job that Drake Kulick is ready for. If he's not, they have to look for other answers. This is too important a position to take lightly.
"Drake (Kulick) is a tremendous young guy. I thought, I've said it before, I can go through our whole roster from last year. One reason we won, everybody kept improving, and some were more dramatic than others and I would say the same thing about Drake. Drake really improved this year. I think all of us feel a lot better about him in the December mode than we did back in August." - Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
"And then Brady Ross, we toyed around with him a little bit. He was kind of the Grant Steen of our scout team this year. Grant was a total pain in the nick in 1999. I didn't know what he was going to play, but I have a feeling this guy is going to play and he starts three years for us. Boy, what a great job he did. Brady was that guy this year, he was just a pain in the neck all the time. Everything he did was at full speed. He knew our offense better than we did and boom, he was always breaking stuff up. He really took to it naturally. He did that in high school and I think he's got a great future, as well. Not saying we are going to replace (Plewa and Cox), but those two guys are great guys, special guys and great leaders." - Head Coach Kirk Ferentz