fullback (American football)
   HOME

TheInfoList



Example of fullback positioning in the "I-Form" offense. A fullback (FB) is a position in the
offensive Offensive may refer to: * Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative * Offensive (military), an attack * Offensive language ** Fighting words or insulting language, words that ...
backfieldThe offensive backfield is the area of an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular A ...
in
gridiron football Gridiron football,"Gridiron football"
''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrie ...
, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Fullbacks are typically larger than halfbacks and in most offensive schemes the fullback's duties are split among power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
and the other running back. Many great runners in the history of American football have been fullbacks, including
Jim Brown Jim or JIM may refer to: * Jim, a diminutive form of the given name James * Jim, a short form of the given name Jimmy * OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism * ''Jim'' (comics), a series by Jim Woodring * ''Jim'' (album), by soul artist Jamie ...

Jim Brown
,
Marion Motley Marion Motley (June 5, 1920 – June 27, 1999) was an American professional football Football is a family of team sport A team is a fullback and linebacker for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and Na ...
,
Bronko Nagurski Bronislau "Bronko" Nagurski (November 3, 1908 – January 7, 1990) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Ca ...
, Jim Taylor,
Franco Harris Franco Harris (born March 7, 1950) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a Fullback (gridiron football), fullback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. Aft ...
,
Larry Csonka Larry Richard Csonka (; born December 25, 1946) is a former professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams o ...
,
John Riggins Robert John Riggins (born August 4, 1949), nicknamed "the Diesel" and "Riggo", is an American former professional American football, football player who was a Fullback (gridiron football), fullback in the National Football League (NFL) for the N ...

John Riggins
,
Christian Okoye Christian Emeka Okoye (; born August 16, 1961), is a Nigerian Americans, Nigerian-American former American football running back for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1987 to 1992. Nicknamed the "Nigerian Nightmare", he is known for his powerful runni ...
, and Levi Jackson. However, many of these runners would retroactively be labeled as halfbacks, due to their position as the primary ball carrier; they were primarily listed as fullbacks due to their size and did not often perform the run-blocking duties expected of modern fullbacks. Examples of players who have excelled at the hybrid running–blocking–pass-catching role include
Mike Alstott Michael Joseph Alstott (born December 21, 1973), is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven pl ...
, William Henderson,
Daryl Johnston Daryl Peter "Moose" Johnston (born February 10, 1966) is a former fullback in the National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football Sports league, league consisting of 32 teams, divided equa ...
,
Kyle Juszczyk Kyle Patrick Juszczyk ( ; born April 23, 1991) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a ...
,
John Kuhn John Allen Kuhn (born September 9, 1982) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on ...

John Kuhn
,
Le'Ron McClain Le'Ron De'Mar McClain (born December 27, 1984) is a former American football Fullback (American football), fullback who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Alabama, and was drafted by the ...

Le'Ron McClain
,
Lorenzo Neal Lorenzo LaVonne Neal (born December 27, 1970) is an American former professional football Football is a family of team sport A team is a fullback in the National Football League (NFL) for sixteen seasons. Neal played college football ...
,
Marcel Reece Marcel Antoine Wayne Reece (born June 23, 1985) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven playe ...
, and
Leonard Weaver Leonard Toney Weaver III (born September 23, 1982) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven p ...
.


History

In the days before two platoons, the fullback was usually the team's punter and
drop kick A drop kick is a type of Kick (football), kick in various codes of football. It involves a player dropping the ball and then kick (football), kicking it as it touches the ground. Drop kicks are used as a method of restarting play and scoring point ...
er. When, at the beginning of the 20th century, a penalty was introduced for hitting the opposing kicker after a kick, the foul was at first called " running into the fullback", inasmuch as the deepest back usually did the kicking. Before the emergence of the T-formation in the 1940s, most teams used four offensive backs, lined up behind the offensive line, on every play: a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a fullback. The quarterback began each play a quarter of the way "back" behind the offensive line, the halfbacks began each play side by side and halfway "back" behind the offensive line, and the fullback began each play the farthest "back" behind the offensive line. As the game evolved and alternate formations came in and went out of fashion, halfbacks (reduced to typically just one rather than two) emerged as the offensive backs most likely to run the ball. "Halfback" came to be synonymous with "running back". Formations began to favor placing the fullback—the back most entrusted with blocking for the running back—closer to the line of scrimmage than the running back. These blocking backs retained the name "fullback" even though they were closer to the offensive line than the halfback. The term "halfback" declined in usage, replaced variously with the more descriptive term "tailback" or the generic term "running back". In the modern game, when the quarterback is under center, the fullback most often lines up directly behind the quarterback and in front of the halfback or tailback. The fullback position has seen a decline in recent time, with only 17 full-time fullbacks playing in 2016. The trend can be traced back to teams choosing to pass more, the use of "11 personnel" (one running back and one tight end), and the use of hybrid "H-backs".


Characteristics

Fullbacks are typically known less for speed and agility and more for muscularity and the ability to shed tackles. In 2010s NFL, fullbacks, while occasionally deployed as ball carriers, are often primarily a lead blocker to allow running backs to get to the
secondary Secondary is an adjective meaning "second" or "second hand". It may refer to: * Secondary (chemistry), term used in organic chemistry to classify various types of compounds * The group of (usually at least four) defensive backs in gridiron football ...
of the opposing team's defense. In the early 2000s, many NFL teams used blocking fullbacks, such as
Tony Richardson Cecil Antonio "Tony" Richardson (5 June 1928 – 14 November 1991) was an English theatre and film director and producer whose career spanned five decades. In 1964 he won the Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscar ...
,
Vonta Leach Terzell Vonta Leach ( ; born November 6, 1981) is a former American football fullback (American football), fullback who played for ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent ...

Vonta Leach
, and
Lorenzo Neal Lorenzo LaVonne Neal (born December 27, 1970) is an American former professional football Football is a family of team sport A team is a fullback in the National Football League (NFL) for sixteen seasons. Neal played college football ...
, with great success. These backs cleared the way for some of the decade's great running backs. Later on, some teams have phased the fullback position out of their offense altogether, with those teams either all but eschewing the
I-formation The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleve ...
, or instead utilizing either a
tight end The tight end (TE) is a position in American football, arena football, and Canadian football, on the offense (sports), offense. The tight end is often a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide rec ...
,
h-back An H-back is an offensive position in American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular Amer ...
, or backup running-back in the role. Today, there are several fullbacks still prominent in the NFL, among them C. J. Ham,
Andy Janovich Andy Janovich (born May 23, 1993) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular ...
, Jamize Olawale, Patrick Ricard (American football), Patrick Ricard, Alec Ingold, Bruce Miller (American football), Bruce Miller , Cullen Gillaspia, Anthony Sherman,
Kyle Juszczyk Kyle Patrick Juszczyk ( ; born April 23, 1991) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a ...
, and Keith Smith (fullback), Keith Smith. In spite of their usually infrequent carries, some fullbacks have led their teams in rushing – among the most notable ones were
Le'Ron McClain Le'Ron De'Mar McClain (born December 27, 1984) is a former American football Fullback (American football), fullback who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Alabama, and was drafted by the ...

Le'Ron McClain
who was the rushing leader for the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 and Tony Richardson who led the Kansas City Chiefs in rushing in 2000. In 2010, Peyton Hillis led the Cleveland Browns in rushing yards with 1,177 yards as a fullback before being converted into a halfback.


Blocking

Although technically running backs, typically fullbacks are primarily valued for their blocking in most 21st century offenses. The most common and simple runs—the dive and the blast—both employ the fullback as the primary blocker for the halfback. In the flexbone formation, however, the fullback (sometimes referred to as the B-back) can often be used as the primary rushing threat. In many other offensive schemes, the fullback is used as a receiver, especially when the defense Blitz (gridiron football), blitzes. In selected plays, some teams will have a defensive lineman report as an eligible receiver to line up as a fullback ("Jumbo" or "Heavy Jumbo") or as a tight end in a "Miami" package in goal-line formations. Players who have been frequently used as situational fullbacks include Haloti Ngata, Dontari Poe, Jared Allen while with the Kansas City Chiefs, Richard Seymour while with the New England Patriots, and Isaac Sopoaga while with the San Francisco 49ers, while Dan Klecko and Nikita Whitlock have played both as a defensive tackle and fullback. Defensive Tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XX from the fullback position.


Substitutes

Most teams in the NFL do not have a substitute fullback, though there are exceptions. The role can be filled by backup or number three or four tight ends or bigger and less-frequently-used running backs. Occasionally, defensive tackles have been used in the fullback position (famous examples include William Perry (American football), William "The Refrigerator" Perry and Kyle Williams (defensive tackle), Kyle Williams); this is most commonly used in goal-line situations, where the defensive tackle's size and ability to penetrate a wall of players becomes an advantage. In modern offenses, fullbacks in an I-formation can be motioned into a 2-TE formation or H-back formation, making a running back or tight end fairly well suited to the role.


Canadian football

The fullback position is less frequently used in Canadian football, which focuses more on Forward pass, passing than running the ball.


References

{{American football positions American football positions