When Brian Leonard was putting Rutgers on the map, and when Ray Rice vaulting the Scarlet Knights to national prominence, the fullback played an integral role in the offense.
Whether it was the result of personnel or philosophy, or the likely combination of the two, it is a position that was drastically phased out of the offense the last few seasons.
As Rutgers looks at the possibility of returning to a pro-style offense, a key ingredient is the play of the play of the fullback, and looking toward 2011, the Scarlet Knights have some options most folks may not know about.
The most glaring possibility looking forward is Michael Burton, a freshman with a high motor and tough style of play who red-shirted last season. The 6-foot, 200-pound Burton should be able to bulk up in the offseason, and brings athleticism to the position.
As a senior at West Morris Central High, Burton rushed for 1,769 yards and 20 touchdowns, and accounted for 27 overall touchdowns. He also was able to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Beyond that, much could change if senior Edmond Laryea is granted a sixth year of eligibility. As the season wound down, the Rutgers coach Greg Schiano expressed optimism Laryea would get a sixth year. In fact, Laryea wasn’t even introduced on Senior Day.
Also, the possibility of middle linebacker Sam Bergen jumping to the backfield remains. Bergen, a freshman who red-shirted last season, was recruited out of East Stroudsburg (Pa.) High to play defense, but was also viewed as a Division I fullback in the recruiting community.
Finally, there is running back Joe Martinek. This isn’t to suggest Martinek is being moved to fullback, but he could see spot duty at the position if tailback depth is gained.
During the 2010 season Rutgers made a move to using an H-back, with tight end Paul Carrezola being part of the package.
The Scarlet Knights also looked into recruiting an H-back, but to this point have been unable to find on worthy of offering.