Spring Preview - Fullback/H-Back

If you looked strictly at how Chris Petersen utilized fullbacks and H-Backs the last couple of years at Boise State, you'd be spending time not seeing all that much. The Broncos ran the Pistol offense under Robert Prince with mixed results at best.

But that wasn't always the case. Petersen has used players like Richie Brockel as fullbacks and H-Backs in creative ways, in unique offensive packages. That doesn't necessarily mean he will do the same in his first season at Washington, but all options are on the table during spring.

That being said, there are signs this position might be headed to the wayside, at least for the foreseeable future.

18 Derrick Brown - 6-2, 245 Jr. Winchester, Calif. (Vista Murrieta) - Originally brought to Washington as a quarterback, Brown quickly became expendable when Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist were signed by Steve Sarkisian. He's a capable athlete with offensive skills - like good hands and a solid Football IQ - who can also punt.
28 Psalm Wooching - 6-3, 228 So. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Kealakehe) - A very good pure two-way athlete, Wooching became a bit of an internet sensation when people saw YouTube film of him doing dances with fire while in high school. Wooching was also a very tough rugby player and isn't afraid of getting his nose right in the middle of the action.
35 Ralph Kinne - 5-10, 210 RFr. walk-on Shelton, Wash. (Shelton)

Departing Players: 0

Incoming This Fall: 0

Where the position stands: Fullback was all but forgotten under Sarkisian, despite all the talk coming in about how he could develop the next Stanley Havili, etc... If anything, he turned the fullback position into simply another blocker in short-yardage and red zone situations. Petersen may have the same ideas. In fact, when Petersen was getting ready for fall camp last year, he told the Idaho Statesman this about not having a true fullback on the BSU roster.

"The tight ends have been able to do it. Just in terms of personnel things, you bring a fullback in a game, the defense knows this is this personnel. Guys with some flexibility make it hard on the defense."

That certainly could explain the fact that, despite only having two scholarship players at the position Petersen never looked like he was going to recruit a hybrid offensive athlete.

Does that spell the end for guys like Wooching and Brown? Kinne could certainly be moved to a bigger running back spot and Brown was always going to be an expendable piece (maybe as a punter in the spring as a stop-gap until true freshman Tristan Vizcaino shows up on campus in the summer?), but perhaps this transition spells the end for Wooching as a true fullback.

If that does become the case, two scenarios emerge. 1) Petersen moves him to a hybrid position, the same position players like Joshua Perkins now hold; or 2) He moves to defense. We know the sophomore from the Big Island loves contact and isn't afraid to mix it up. Maybe he becomes another middle linebacker to fight for the spot behind John Timu? Maybe he gets some looks outside where Cory Littleton plays? Lots of options with a very good athlete like Wooching, who seemed to always come at his offense with a bit of a defensive mindset to begin with.

The competition: For now, we will go by the assumption that the position will still be used by the Huskies in the spring. If that does end up being the case, there's only two scholarship players at the position so the competition ends up being very simple. It'll either be Wooching or Brown, and frankly the job was Wooching's from the start last year and no one did anything to push Sarkisian away from that opinion. He played in 11 games last year, something most UW fans would probably be surprised to learn.

Who has the edge?: Wooching, obviously. He's the one player at UW groomed at the position, and who has the requisite size, speed, strength, toughness and ability to play the position. It's a no-brainer if Petersen wants to do some things here he'll use Wooching as UW's version of Brockel.

Who should step up?: Kinne could be a wild-card here. He was a very prolific, tough runner for Shelton two years ago and with the right strength and conditioning program could end up at 225-230 pounds. At that size he could end up impacting the position the same way that Jonathan Amosa did a few years back.

In Waiting: Another easy part to write about, because there is nobody in waiting - a major clue as to whether or not Petersen sees a future here. The other explanation is that he has very specific ideas about the kind of player he'll recruit at this position and didn't have anyone in mind given the short amount of time he had to work with salvaging the 2013 recruiting class.

In Summary: It should be pretty easy to figure out within the first practice or two how Chris Petersen feels about using fullbacks and H-Backs in the offense he wants to run at Washington. If he does want to incorporate certain fits, certain plays, certain formations in certain down-and-distance situations - Wooching would be the guy to use. That's the easy part.

If the offensive hybrid position isn't going to be a part of Petersen's offense, then what? What will become of Wooching and Brown, let alone Kinne? Wooching is part of UW's special teams already, so he would have legitimate value there - but Brown's time at Montlake has been waning for a while.

Dawgman.com Top Stories