Spring Lesson: The very fact that ScarletReport.com has a segment devoted to fullbacks this year speaks wonders. With Frank Cignetti calling the plays, the fullback is no longer a position to put guys without a position so they can block twice a game.
In the spring game, three fullbacks caught five passes for 103 yards. Rutgers may not have Brian Leonard on the roster this year, but the fullback will be a position to watch in key situations as Cignetti's system takes over.
Starter out of Spring: Joe Martinek was not healthy enough to participate this spring, but he has too much experience not to get the first look at fullback going into training camp.
Martinek was at least a co-starter for three years at running back, barely missing 1,000 yards as a sophomore. Martinek is a smart player and is probably better suited as a fullback in Cignetti's offense. For Martinek to win the job, he will have to make up for missed spring time with a strong training camp and demonstrate improved receiving and run-blocking ability.
Got a Chance: The main players at fullback this spring were Marcus Thompson and Michael Burton.
Thompson will find playing time somewhere on the field this season. It's just a matter of if the coaches keep him at fullback or put him back at linebacker or defensive line. Thompson played both sides in high school and has the athleticism and angry playing style necessary for any of those positions.
Burton, a walk-on from West Morris Central High School, received a lot of praise from Schiano this spring and caught the longest pass out of the backfield with the first-team offense at the Scarlet-White game. Burton may have the best balance of position knowledge, health, offensive skills and blocking ability right now.
Needs More Time: Robert Joseph spent his first time as a healthy Scarlet Knight this spring, but will need to show the coaching staff he can stay healthy before he earns playing time.
Incoming freshman Paul Canevari said he expects to work partly as a fullback and partly as a halfback when he arrives. He and Sam Bergen, who tried a little fullback this spring, are two others to watch.
Schiano's Take "In this offense, you need a fullback to do a lot of different things. One of the position changes we made was moving Joe Martinek to fullback. I think he will be really good at it, but until he does it, we won't know. That will be huge in training camp.
I think Mike Burton did some nice things. Again, will he be able to do it consistently? Will be he able to do it at the level of toughness required? We will see. Mike was a high school tailback, but I think he has a chance. Marcus Thompson – if we leave him at that position – will he be able to do the things we need him to do? He certainly has been able to at times.
We have some things up in the air at that position. Robert Joseph is another guy who is talented, coming off two knee surgeries. Now that he has gone 15 practices, can he put together a great summer and then come back?
What we will have is an undecided fullback position with four or five guys that are capable. Who will seize the opportunity? That is what we will find out in training camp."
Transition to Training Camp:
Transition to Training Camp: The Fullbacks
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