Smash-mouth football is fun, but Max Anthony has bigger goals in his return to offense. Anthony, who projects to start at fullback in the Rutgers spring game, moved from middle linebacker after a change in coordinators.
Anthony re-learned the fullback role in winter workouts with hopes of restoring the position to its past, all-star role in the Rutgers offense.
“It's very versatile,” Anthony said. “We use a fullback in a lot of different ways. So far, it's been great. It's not all just your old-school blow up a defensive end. It's a lot of thinking on your feet and reacting. Which defender do I pick up? It's been great. … It's a lot of blocking but a matter of who to block on which play and how to block them.”
The reincarnation of the position after its deletion in 2016 brings opportunities to walk-ons like Anthony, Razohnn Gross and Jim Brady. All would like to become the next Michael Burton or Sam Bergen.
“It's great, so far, to have the opportunity to get reps with the ones,” Anthony said. “Obviously I haven't earned the right to start yet, but I'm working to it, working for it. Hopefully I'll keep my role.”
Anthony was on his way back to offense no matter what, but the choice became fullback because of Jerry Kill's addition. Before Kill took the job, Anthony considered a move to tight end because of injuries and departures at the position.
Injuries ended George Behr's time and knocked Jerome Washington out for spring. Matt Flanagan graduate transferred and Nick Arcidiacono moved on as a departing senior. Anthony competed for playing time at middle linebacker last season, but originally picked Rutgers to play fullback.
“I was definitely excited (to move back),” Anthony said. “It's a great opportunity to come on the other side of the ball and have a chance to start or earn a starting role. It's great.”
While the fullback's role is a Kill decision, special teams coordinator Vince Okruch adds three fullbacks to the list of responsibilities. Okruch coaches tight ends and special teams.
“Coach Okruch is awesome,” said Anthony, who played for Jay Niemann last season and Norries Wilson as a true freshman. “He really helps me learn everything in the classroom, whether I have to know all of the tight end stuff, all of the fullback stuff. He's been great working with us, just teaching every little detail. He's very detail-oriented, which is awesome because it helps translate on the field.”