Dr. Recruitnik's Fullback Report

Mr., uh, I mean, Dr. Recruitnik is back this week with his next look at OSU's recruiting. Dr. R will analyze each position and will report on them weekly to define "who" and "why." This week, Dr. Recruitnik turns his focus to the fullback position.

The fullback position at OSU has evolved from the Woody Hayes Era to the Bruce/Cooper Era. I use the "Bruce" and "Cooper" eras as interchangeable, in this regard, because they used their fullbacks the same way. The "Tressel Era"? Same thing…

That is…Woody used his big back as a battering ram and the short-yardage guy. If there was just one running back in the backfield, it would most often be the fullback. The subsequent coaches and offenses liked the fullback more as a blocker (i.e. additional offensive lineman). They would get a gratuitous handoff or a swing pass but that was not an integral part of the offensive game plan. There were some modifications, of course. When Matt Keller moved to the fullback position (due to some injuries by the previous inhabitants), he became more of a runner because he was not a dominating blocker.

Which brings us to the present tense. Jamar Martin spoiled Buckeye fans as he was one of the most dominant blockers in our storied history of dominant blockers. And we had a number of able bodies fermenting on the back burner. Or, so we thought…

At the beginning of the season, our fullback prospects included sophomore (in eligibility) Branden Joe, freshman Brandon Schnittker, junior Jesse Kline and junior Nate Stead. Kline showed the best potential as a runner, Stead was a powerful blocking back, and Schnittker/Joe were the athletic combo guys. But when the smoke cleared and the season began, Kline left the team due to continuous injuries, Stead wasn't in the picture due to grade concerns and Joe/Schnittker became the brand new option(s). Jack Tucker – a converted linebacker – provided some depth but not much optimism at that position.

Tressel's brain trust is presented with the options of 1) changing the offense to more of a two-back set 2) finding the next Jamar Martin/Nicky Sualua clone or 3) working with the type of athletes we already have. Option #3 seems to be both the most likely and most realistic.

Michigan did well this year in changing big tailback BJ Askew into a small fullback. OSU is trying to ape that idea with both Joe and Schnittker, although our two guys are both bigger than Askew. Thus far, the experiment is about a push as our fullbacks have not been great blockers or great runners. Lately, Tressel has inserted mammoth Andree Tyree into the jumbo formation, mostly to put the fear of God into the opposition.

Recruiting? I scan the skies, the charts, and the articles, but have yet to find OSU in on any fullback recruits. Joe Razzano (from Milford) is the only true fullback rated in the Top 50 in the state and he isn't being recruited by the Buckeyes.

Dr. Recruitnik sez: Expect no new fullbacks in the class of 2003. Perhaps there will be a position transfer; the most likely candidates are Tyree and LB/TE candidate Stan White. The only big Ohio name on the radar screen for the following year is record-breaker Brock Bolen from Valley View but I see him as a "tweener"; not fast enough to be a tailback and not brutish enough to be a fullback. Look forward to a national search for a big body next year.

Dr. Recruitnik has no e-mail address, but if you have e-mail for him, send it to mrbucknuts@yahoo.com and Mr. Bucknuts will see if he can summon him...


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