Post-Spring Outlook: Fullbacks

It's a somewhat common coach saying to quote the phrase "BYOB." But in football coaching jargon, the directive doesn't have anything to do with knocking down a cold one. Instead, it's about knocking down defenders, as in Be Your Own Blocker.

The phrase is a quaint one, imploring players to be physical and to run through tacklers. But in the case of the Longhorns, it's also somewhat disappointing in that the direct use can only be accomplished through cloning. Because the Longhorns' best fullback might also be their best tailback in Joe Bergeron.

But when Bergeron arrived on campus, he showcased quick feet and enough big-play ability to stand out as a primary ball-carrier, meaning that the Longhorns have to look elsewhere to find their fullback, especially since 255-pound wrecking ball Cody Johnson has moved on, likely to the NFL.

In Johnson's place stands a pair of converted linebackers, and potentially as many as three from the defensive position well-known for breeding hard-hitters who enjoy contact. The projected starter is Ryan Roberson, who served as Johnson's backup last year and actually played the position when injuries at running back (ironically, to Bergeron, among others) forced Johnson into the running back spot. Roberson isn't as physically elite as Johnson, who outweighs Roberson by 15 pounds and runs in the 4.6s. But Roberson does actually have more time at the position. Roberson spent both his sophomore and junior seasons as a fullback, and caught two passes for 12 yards last year.

Behind Roberson, now a senior, is an open spot. That opening seemingly belonged to Chet Moss, who also arrived as a linebacker, and who played on special teams as a freshman. Moss has great size at 6-2 242, and is plenty physical. But he also was suspended for the spring, and therefore missed a chance at repetitions, and even a chance to push Roberson for the starting job.

Moss's absence led to another linebacker's move, though it's potentially a temporary one. Alex De La Torre spent the first part of spring as the second-team middle linebacker behind Steve Edmond. And he displayed great instincts at that position, often tracking down the ball carrier. But Moss missing the spring meant that Texas was thinner at fullback than it was at linebacker, and De La Torre spent the second half of his spring being evaluated at a position where he was blocking his former position mates.

De La Torre is taller than Roberson, and probably has a bit more size potential there. But as of right now, he's 230 pounds, and needs to add strength for the position. And moving him to fullback means that he would be moved to a position where his greatest strength — his football IQ as a linebacker — would be negated. So while his future position might be in flux, the best situation available might be in moving back to his original spot once Moss resumes practice.

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