While the fullback role faded away from the Rutgers offense in 2016, it never became obsolete. Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Kill planned early to resurrect the position from deletion.
Spring practice is back at Rutgers, and the fullback is again a part of the program.
Rutgers gave four fullbacks NFL opportunities in the last 10 years. One of the best is happy to see the position return.
“I was excited to kind of see that they're maybe going back a little bit more toward using a fullback,” said Detroit Lions fullback Michael Burton. “I always like to see when the fullbacks line up on the field. I'm excited to check it out and hopefully get out to a spring practice or two.”
Rutgers Hall of Famer Brian Leonard's career includes time as both a running back and fullback. He sees better days ahead for the Rutgers offense and program altogether.
“We really built a program there and turned it into what it is today,” Leonard said. “I know they're in a little bit of a slump right now, but they have everything in place to be great again.”
What makes Kill's fullback special?
“It's a position that's very multiple,” Kill said. “A little from the Minnesota days but a lot from being at Kansas State and how they use their guy. A guy that can line up in a lot of different places and do a lot of different things. Also, I want him to carry the ball some.”
Rutgers moved a pair of walk-on linebackers – Max Anthony and Jim Brady – to fullback for spring camp. Incoming freshman Brendan DeVera joins the competition in June.
“We've recruited, for the first time, kind of a fullback-type guy,” Kill said. "He just makes you more multiple. We can do a lot of things from an offensive standpoint. If you've got tight ends and you've got receivers and you've got a fullback, you are very multiple in what you do formation-wise."
DeVera, who visited Rutgers Saturday with five other members of the 2017 Rutgers recruiting class, plans to play early.
“Coach Kill basically said that Rutgers is putting all of its chips on me,” DeVera said aftere his official visit. “I take that as a big compliment. It drives me even more. When he said that I'm their guy right now, I felt I need to be ready. … They're really banking on my physical ability to play as a true freshman. I'm thankful that they think so highly of me. It drives me to want to be a bigger prospect for them.”