At Arkansas-Pine Bluff, there’s nothing glamorous about playing fullback.
It’s a position that stresses more blocking for a deep collection of tailbacks. In fact, in the last three years, no Golden Lions fullback has carried the ball more than 16 times in a season.
That’s how many carries Micheal Wilson had last year, finishing with 73 yards and a touchdown. And he ran the ball twice as much as the starter in front of him, Jeremy Edmonds.
So, turning four carries into 22 yards and a touchdown against Grambling State was a pretty busy day at work for Wilson, a redshirt junior from Earle.
“All year, coach (Keith) Saine told me to be patient,” Wilson said, mentioning his position coach. “You never know when your number’s going to be called. I was prepared at any moment to get the ball, and when I finally got that chance, I just seized that opportunity and scoring is one of the best feelings to me.”
Wilson entered the Grambling State game with just two rushes for 11 yards. But with tailback Jeremiah Young sitting out much of the game with a concussion, Wilson’s number was called a little more.
His first carry of the game went for 13 yards to the Grambling State 1 early in the second quarter, with UAPB threatening to build a 21-13 lead. He finished off the drive on the next play.
“It was very important” to score, Wilson said. “I helped my team out in a critical situation. I feel like the touchdown was a big contribution to the team to help us get over that hump and get a victory.”
UAPB won 45-42 for its second straight win.
For his career, the 5-foot-10, 223-pound Wilson has 22 rushes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that amount to a productive game for a feature back. For someone who rushed for about 1,500 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Earle High School, the little offensive production isn’t what Wilson exactly envisioned.
“It was a big adjustment because in high school, I pretty much never had to block because 80 percent of the time I got the ball,” Wilson said. “When I got here, coaches always told me to be prepared. You could play any position.”
Said Saine: “I would always pass by Micheal and I’d tell him, ‘You’ve got to be aggressive,’ … and it’ll carry over into your running as a running back. When he accepted the role mentally, he got better. Right now, he’s doing well for us.”
Wilson has no complaints about his role, either.
“I’ve just been here to play my role, whatever it is they need me to do,” Wilson said. “Jeremiah’s a great running back. When he went down, I just stepped in and played my role.”
Saine said Wilson has improved as a fullback since his first day on campus, but added it’s been a case of waiting for his share of carries in a backfield that’s loaded every season.
“We just had a lot of great backs,” Saine said. “He got caught up in the numbers system, and he said, ‘Hey, I’ll just be fullback.’ He’s worked at it and gotten better at it each week.”
With Young (and safety Kevin Rucker Jr.) out for Saturday’s game at Alabama A&M with concussions, Wilson’s expected to make a few more carries.
“He has a good attitude and knows his role,” Saine said. “I told him, ‘You go hard in practice.’ He’s been having some good practices. Since he’s been going hard, he’s rewarded by being able to carry the ball.”