What Does A Fullback Do In American Football?

What does a fullback do in American Football? A fullback player normally lines up next to the quarterback in the backfield before the snap.

The Fullback position can make the run in the short yard and block the defenders during an offensive play. Due to their blocking ability combined with the players’ huge size and weight, you will find coaches putting them in a special position.

Regarding size and weight, the ideal player has an average height of 6 feet, whereas the average weight must be around 250 pounds. Their position and overall build are very similar to the tight-end players. 

Both tight-end players and fullbacks are expected to be exceptional blocker that provides blocking support during the running game. The running and passing play is quite common in both of the positions.

Different Roles Of A Fullback

What does a Fullback do the answer will be clear to you after you understand their roles.

They primarily involve blocking and passing the ball. The role of a fullback is often overlooked, and many fans don’t fully understand their roles in the team. But they are a crucial part of the offensive team and are one of the main reasons for their success. 

The roles that they are primarily responsible for are :

1. Blocking 

Fullback is the lead blocker for the halfback, and it is their job to clear the way for the running back and quarterback to run the ball. They often make the first contact with the defense as they are the ones who block the defenders and create holes for the running back to run through. Their ability to block makes the offense easy for the offensive team. 

2. Pass Catching 

In the short-yardage situation, they also have the job of being the receivers. And when the primary receivers are covered, they are the receivers who save the team from a dangerous situation.

The skill of fullbacks that allows them to be receivers also makes them one of the most versatile players in American football. 

3. Running the ball 

Fullbacks are usually larger and more physical players than running backs, and with the same power and size, they can move the ball forward in the offense. In short-passing situations, the team needs to gain a few yards to move the chains; at moments like this, the fullback runs the ball.

4. Special Teams

The size and strength of fullbacks allow them to create an impact in the field. They can be used as blockers on kick returns and tacklers on kick coverage, making them a great player for the special teams.

Position OF A Fullback

The fullback is always lined up in the backfield behind the quarterback and front of the halfback. Their position is on the same side as the tight ends.

The halfback and quarterback are on the opposite side of tight-end and fullbacks. But the position can vary depending upon the formations and play that the coaches want to run.

They can be lined up closer to the line of scrimmage or get lined up further back. Their exact position is also determined by the strategy of a team and the skills that the specific fullback possesses. 

Ideal Formations For The Use Of Fullback

The most common use of Fullbacks can be seen in the I-formation and the power formations. Both power and I-formation are running formations.

I-formation is quite popular among coaches to make full use of the fullback. This formation includes a fullback, a halfback, and a quarterback in the backfield. The fullback lines up directly behind the quarterback, and the halfback is just behind him, which favors greatly during the time of goal-line.

The other formation where the position is usually played is the power formation, where the fullback lines up closer to the line of scrimmage, providing additional support for the running game. In this formation, the fullback acts as a lead blocker for the halfback.

The pro-style formation is also a type where the fullback can be well utilized. It is a balanced formation with the quarterback, fullback, and halfback in the backfield. The player is usually close to the line of scrimmage and is a lead blocker for a halfback. In a passing game, they also act as a receiver.

They might do wonders in these types of formations but not in a spread formation. Nickel backs can easily cover them, and they often can’t provide much value in a spread passing game which is why they aren’t used much in professional, college, and high school football.

Skills Required To Be A Successful Fullback

The fullback can make the team great with their unique role in blocking, passing, and running. Other skills in defending are also required to be a great fullback.

Fullbacks usually act like lead blockers to the halfback in the team. To be successful in this position, good blocking techniques are essential. They should be able to open a hole for running backs. They also need to have strong tackling abilities to assist in the defense.

Apart from being a great assist to defense, they also need to be a great part of attacks. To create a threat in the opponent’s defense, they need to have a good pass-catching ability to be a viable receiving option. They also have good ball-carrying skills to take advantage of opportunities to run the ball. 

This position demands physical strength and endurance with very good vision and decision-making as they must find the right hole and make quick cuts. And since they are lead blockers, they need good leadership and communication skills to direct the offense and work with other players effectively.

History Of Fullback In Football

Fullbacks have remained in a position in football ever since the existence of the game. It is believed the position started being famous in the late 1800s.

Initially, the position was just a blocking back whose main job was to clear a path for the running back. With time the other responsibilities started increasing.

In the 1920s and 1930s, fullbacks began to be used as ball carriers and receivers, with many teams incorporating the single-wing formation, which had a blocking fullback.

But the position started gaining popularity only after the 1980s and 1990s as the teams like the San Fransico 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys used the position highly to play the powerful running game. 

The position in today’s age is not quite famous in football. In a well-known league like NFL, the teams prefer to have a halfback who can perform every role of the blocking department.

Relation With Tight Ends

The tight end and full back in football might seem like the same position, but they aren’t. There is similarity and differences between both positions.

They both are on the offensive side of the spectrum and are involved in running and passing plays. Both positions are played by larger and more physical players and are very versatile. 

Moreover, coaches around the world expect both positions to be strong blockers. They often get involved in a similar blocking scheme and are used to protect the quarterback and open holes for the running back.

However, both positions have their differences. In the game, tight ends are more involved in the passing game than the fullback, which is why the players in the tight end have longer heights and are leaner. 

The tight ends can be of two types: passing tight ends or blocking tight ends, making them a little more versatile than the fullbacks, who specialize in blocking as a lead blockers.

Relation With Half Back

In football, both halfbacks and fullbacks are part of the offensive team. With their distinct roles, they are involved in running and passing plays. 

Fullback is the leader of the halfback, who is responsible for clearing the way so that they can run the ball. On the other hand, the halfbacks are running back, line up behind the fullback, and are the primary carrier in the running game.

The size of the halfbacks is usually shorter and lighter in comparison, as their job requires them to be more agile. 

However, both positions have got some similarities as well. They both belong to positions in the backfield and are responsible for blocking the ball carrier. They are both responsible for pass protection and receiving passes out of the backfield.

Declination Of Fullback

Most of the teams in high schools don’t play fullbacks at all. Even in NFL, some teams don’t have a pure fullback.

In today’s age, many teams prefer playing spread offenses that use multiple wide receivers and tight ends rather than one traditional fullback. They rely on spreading defenses instead of running the ball with a fullback.

The game has evolved too much in the past few years. The teams are more inclined to the fast pace game, and fullbacks are not as fast as other positions in football.

With the increment in pace, a new position has also emerged in the game. The half-backs of today’s game combine full-back and tight-end roles. It has allowed teams to have a player who can block and also be a threat in the passing game.

Famous Fullback Hall of Famers

Even though the position of fullback is at a declining stage in the past times it used to be one of the exciting positions. Some Hall of Famers from that position were :

  1. Clarke Hinkle (1932-1941)
  2. Ernie Nevers (1926-1927 , 1929-1931)
  3. Bronko Nagurski (1930-1943)
  4. Jim Brown (1957-1965)
  5. Larry Csonka (1968-1979)
  6. John Henry Johnson (1954-1966)
  7. Jim Taylor (1958-1967)
  8. Joe Perry (1948-1963)