6'5" and 265 lbs. Used to be, that would say to me, offensive tackle, tight end, pure-passing QB (but a tall one) or perhaps a defensive end and wide receiver as well. It didn't say to me, defensive tackle, because they just weren't that big. They are now and Xavier Fulton's frame makes him ideal as the interior guys are getting bigger along with everyone else.
About big defensive tackles though, I have always been from the school of thought that if you want to be a great run-stuffer, you need a big butt. It sounds corny, but guys that had that major posterior usually weren't all that tall, great at getting leverage and of course, it was just darn hard to get them off their feet.
Xavier would be the first to disagree that this ability solely exists with the shorter-stauncher interior guys, because all last year, that's exactly what he did. "Last year, they didn't want us getting up-field." Xavier said of the role of the interior defensive players. "Just hold the offensive guys up and stop the run. That's what we were supposed to do."
Something they did effectively as Xavier said they all but dominated all their competition in that respect, save one. "That was just a weird game." Fulton stated. "All year long, we were just beating seniors and beating them bad. Nobody could run up the middle on us. We just didn't it done that one game."
A correction he plans on making as his team this season will be the one laden with veterans, his D-line sporting all seniors but one. That also translates to an expected new role for guys like Xavier as he will get to do what he has wanted to do all along. "We never got a chance to get up-field, so I am just learning to shoot the gaps." he said. "But, I would like to get around 15-20 sacks this year, because we will be able to do a lot of things with all the guys we have coming back."
That number seems lofty and with that kind of goal, you would think that quite possibly, Fulton is just that type of guy. You know, set the numbers high, is big on the numbers, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc. That would be almost opposite actually to Xavier's personality as he's very laid-back and his goals are not about impressing coaches, but making the biggest impact for his team.
Ok, but if he does get that many sacks, it's going to impress a lot of coaches. That would be obvious. There's a few he doesn't have to impress anymore than he already has though as Illinois has offered him in writing along with Wisconsin and Indiana. And, the verbal attention is by far more significant, Xavier hearing from schools like Nebraska and Tennessee.
As to who he likes, Xavier did admit that there is one school that if they offered, he would probably go there, not just because of him, but of the person closest to him with the most influence on what he does. "If Tennessee offered me, I would probably go there." Xavier said. "My dad has been just going on and on about them since I was like a Sophomore, so if they offered, that's probably where I would go."
If Tennessee doesn't offer however, the door swings wide-open for a variety of schools, all those mentioned above included and possibly more. The more depends on when Xavier decides to make his decision, that time he is hoping his to make, though he stated everyone seems determined to make it for him. "My dad wants me to shoot for December and the Illinois coaches, they tell me I have to make my choice now, but what I would like to do is just wait until after the season and figure it out from there." he said.
Xavier did say that he does have an idea about officials he might take, Tennessee being one of the obvious candidates. Fulton added Wisconsin to that list along with Nebraska and wasn't sure as to where the rest would go. He did say that Illinois probably wouldn't get a visit, simply for one reason. "I've already been there like 7 times, so I'm not sure what else there is to see." he said.
What else is there to see? A year more of Fulton and company as they go for a state title. And for anyone that isn't a Vol fan that is really eyeing this young man, they might be watching the depth chart of Tennessee, hoping they fill up at DT before Xavier really comes into the picture.
And then, everyone else can have a shot.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619
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