Coach's Take on FB Mike Tolbert's Scott Domitrowits serves up an exclusive interview with Coastal Carolina running backs coach Keith James, who worked closely with Chargers rookie fullback Mike Tolbert. James reveals Tolbert's strengths and weaknesses and sees him as a "more athletic, faster version" of former Dallas Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse.

Scott Domitrowits: Despite not being drafted, Mike Tolbert has a great opportunity to bring his versatile skills to the team. Are you surprised he was not drafted and what do you think he will make of this opportunity?

Keith James: I was always confident in his ability, but his height (5'9") was always being questioned by people, so it wasn't surprising. I've been seeing him practice and in games and I just know when Mike is given the opportunity, he will make the best of it.

SD: What is his greatest strength as a football player?

KJ: I would definitely say his speed for his size. He is so fast for a really big back (243 lbs.) and he also has a great ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He also has great balance on the football field. People try to knock him down and he just can't be brought down and will always get that extra yard.

FB Mike Tolbert
Donald Miralle/Getty

SD: What is the part of his game which needs improvement?

KJ: I would say his pass blocking. He is so aggressive and really tries to go after people, so sometimes that can really make him struggle in the pass-blocking game.

SD: Is there a particular play that stands out in your mind that shows you how great a player he is?

KJ: This past year against VMI (Virginia Military Institute), it was a big game and he came to the sideline and let the coaches know he wanted to be a big part of it. That game, Mike had 13 carries for 244 yards and a couple of touchdowns, and that was the most carries he had in his career. We run a spread offense here and we really never used Mike that much out of the backfield, and after that game the coaching staff kind of realized we may have "missed the boat" on this.

SD: The Chargers run a pretty complicated West Coast offense and Tolbert is used to a spread offense. How is he going to adjust to the change?

KJ: He picked up our offense here so well. He is such a great student of the game, so I anticipate no issues with picking up the Chargers' offense.

SD: If there was a pro player or another popular college player who reminds you of Tolbert's ability, which player would that be?

KJ: I'm not sure if a lot of the younger people will recognize this name, but he reminds me of Robert Newhouse, the former fullback of the Dallas Cowboys. He was very big and physical and was so hard to tackle. Mike reminds of that, but a more athletic, faster version of that.

SD: Do you think Mike Tolbert will make the Chargers' roster?

KJ: If he keeps working hard he really has a great chance to make it. He needs to keep his head on right, stay healthy, and I definitely think he will be able to do it.

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