The Fullback Position: An In-Depth Guide

Posted by Throw Deep Publishing Staff on

In the rare instance you see a fullback score a touchdown in a football game, you’ll be sure to see the entire team celebrate even more than normal – knowing full well the sacrifice fullbacks make for the good of the offense on a weekly basis.

Fullbacks in the modern game of football are a true extension of the offensive line, looking to do whatever it takes to help offense to move the ball, and doing the dirty work in order to make it happen.

What is a fullback in football - Throw Deep Publishing

Fullbacks are hard not to love, often being guys who lack natural gifts such as height and athleticism, but make up for it with a heavy dose of tenacity and a will to do whatever it takes for the offense to find success. Below will uncover many of the reasons why old-school, pro-style offensive coordinators love having the fullback as a staple of their offensive scheme, and one of the most important offensive positions in football.

What does a Fullback do?

Fullbacks are utilized in two-back sets, lining up in the backfield either next to, or behind the quarterback, yet not expecting to receive the football whatsoever most of the time. Their role is dependent on physicality, becoming a valued additional blocker in a variety of run schemes, as well as the pass game.

Success running the football is often predicated on being able to work up to the second level, taking care of linebacker level players working to close gaps. This is where the fullback comes into play, who is often tasked with sealing blocks at the second level, allowing run plays to click off for success.

What is a Fullback

Fullbacks are often considered “tweeners”, not quite tall enough to play tight end, but a bit bulky, and possessing less athleticism than that of their running back counterparts. Naturally, you’ll find them to be tough, hard-nosed, and guys who don’t shy away one bit from the physical nature of the game. You’re bound to see them more in pro-style offenses at the NFL level, as the college game has adopted a heavy spread influence.

Blocking makes up a surefire majority of a fullback's reps within a football game, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t completely out of the picture to touch the football here and there throughout the game. In short yardage situations, teams may look to call a “fullback dive” play, or even leak the fullback out in the flat for a short pass to keep the defense honest in the boot game.

While you’ll likely never see them blow up the stat sheet, offensive coordinators who still believe in the value of a pro-style, traditional run game know full well the importance of the position within the offense.

Why is it called Fullback?

It’s difficult to comprehend why the name “fullback” is used when the “halfback” is positioned even further away from the quarterback in base alignments. In early origins of the sport of football, rugby played a big influence in position naming, as backs are named in accordance to their depth and alignment on the field.

What are some other names for the Fullback?

Below are a few terms announcers or fans may refer to fullbacks as. Their alignment can vary in a few different backfield locations.

Power Back
Blocking Back

What are the Skills and Body Type needed to play Fullback?

Run Blocking
Pass Blocking
Pass Catching

Blocking is the name of the game for fullbacks at all levels in today’s game of football. Fullbacks are considered much less athletic than your typical running back, but make up for it with a combination of elite blocking ability and hard-nosed toughness.

Body Type (General Estimates)
Height: 5’11-6’1
Weight: 235-250
Build: Thick

Fullbacks tend to be larger than running backs, and built for the demands of their position in blocking physical defensive lineman and linebackers on a down to down basis.

Who are some of the best Fullbacks ever?

Mike Alstott (1996-2007) - A 6-time Pro Bowl selection in his time with the Buccaneers, Alstott benefitted playing in this time period as fullbacks were utilized running the ball far more often. He ran for 58 career touchdowns, and goes down as one of best fullbacks to ever play the game.

Larry Csonka - What is a Fullback

Larry Csonka (1968-1979) - Yet another fullback who benefitted from a heavy usage of fullbacks in his era of football, Csonka is the all-time leading rusher in Miami Dolphins history totaling nearly 7,000 yards rushing for the franchise.

Why is the Fullback so important?

The fullback’s role on an offense is very similar to that of an offensive lineman, both important but under-recognized. Looking mainly to create avenues for an offense to run the football, the fullback’s job often doesn’t show up on the stat sheet at the conclusion of a football game.

On top of this, many teams are moving away from the use of the traditional fullback with the emergence of the spread offense. This naturally limits the usage of the position in modern football, further displaying the selflessness involved in playing the position.

For teams looking to set the tone running the football in a traditional manner, the fullback is an essential piece of making it happen. In finding the right guy willing to go toe to toe with defensive lineman, and linebackers in the box all game, an offense is sure to see success running the football in an old-fashioned manner.

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