With more teams moving to the spread offense over the past decade, it has started to phase out an important position — the fullback.
Pine Bluff coach Bobby Bolding has not only stuck with the position. He considers the fullback a key fixture in his offense.
“I still like to run right at people,” he said. “I think it gives you an advantage. … It’s not something people see every week.”
Last year, Pine Bluff had Lemmie Daniels as the fullback and this year, Bolding rotates seniors Kelvin Sergeant and Demetrius Anderson at the position. Both play on the defensive side of the ball as linebackers.
Bolding said having two seniors at that position has been huge.
“I talked to them in the spring that they will have to rotate and they said ‘Fine. Whatever it takes to win,’” he said. “Typical fullback mentality.”
Both fullbacks know exactly what their job is, too.
“We got to open up the lanes for our backs,” Anderson said. “I just want to come out here, work hard and help our running backs out.”
Anderson’s description of what he does matches what Bolding thinks about the position.
“A fullback is nothing more than an offensive lineman with a running back’s number,” he said. “But every now and again they will catch a pass or get a run. You have to feed them the rock a little bit to keep them excited.”
If one of the two fullbacks is going to carry the ball, it is Sergeant.
A year after dealing with fumbling problems, the 215-pounder has found a way to take care of the ball and has scored four touchdowns this year.
“I like to think of myself as a bit of a running back,” Sergeant said. “Coach has thought about moving me to running back. I have been told I am a strong runner. I have a little stiff-arm move.”
Although Sergeant enjoys having the ball in his hands, he still knows his role in the offense and relishes in.
“I think the fullback plays a big key in our offense because the way it is designed, most of the time the fullback has the key block,” he said. “If it isn’t right, nine times out of 10, he won’t make that run. We have a key role in the offense.”
Anderson never really has the ball in his hands, though, and that is the way he likes it.
“He is a really old-school fullback,” Bolding said. “He doesn’t want the ball. He just wants to put his hat on somebody. He wants to put his hardhat on and grab his lunch pail and go to work.”
Anderson admits that he likes smacking defenders in the mouth.
“I just love hitting,” he said. “Just keep (Walter Ashley) from getting hit hard because I know he will do the rest when we open it up for him.”
Ashley, Pine Bluff’s starting running back, does not let the job the fullbacks do for him go unnoticed, either.
“Every play, he comes into the huddle and tells us to keep it up,” Sergeant said. “He always has something positive to say.”
Even though Sergeant and Anderson graduate this year, Bolding will continue to use the fullback as long as he is the head coach.
“I love using the fullbacks,” he said. “I think a lot of our yards can be attributed to the fullbacks.”