Fulmer on Fullbacks

Playing fullback at Tennessee is a thankless job but a very important one. As the lead blocker on most running plays, he fills a valuable role in the success of Vol tailbacks.

After getting outstanding work from Phillip Crosby, Shawn Bryson and Will Bartholomew in recent years, UT's fullback play slipped a notch last season. Troy Fleming preferred to play tailback, and his disdain for fullback showed up in his blocking at times.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer says Fleming is looking good this spring, however. So is backup Will Revill, a 6-1, 250-pounder who fits the battering-ram mold.

''I like what William Revill's gotten done at fullback to help us with that,'' Fulmer said. ''He's been a plus. Fleming is a really good player, and he's really having a good spring. He's had a good attitude. But I've got to find another fullback.''

The top candidates are sophomore Sudan Ellington (6-3, 250), a converted tight end, and redshirt freshman Ruben Mayes (6-0, 245).

Fulmer conceded that Mayes ''is making some progress. But he's just a child, and he acts like a child about half the time. He's got to grow up, be more disciplined in his personal life, in his academic life and more disciplined out here as a football player. If he does those things, he's got a chance to help us.''

Fleming carried the ball 34 times for 162 yards last fall, a 4.8 yards-per-carry average. He also caught 21 passes for 120 yards, a 5.7 yards-per-catch average. None of the other fullback prospects has carried the ball or caught a pass in a real game. Revill, however, was at fullback when Tennessee marched 90 yards in 17 plays (all runs) for the game-clinching touchdown last November at South Carolina.

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