Friday, August 26, 2011

Position Breakdown 2011: Fullbacks / H-backs

Returning Lettermen: Austin Raphael
Newcomers: Malique Micenheimer
Lost: None

Austin Raphael: Ready to Go Out with a Bang
Sr, 6-2, 225
Jamestown (Sonora HS)

After years of trying to find the right position fit, Austin Raphael has settled in nicely at the fullback/H-back spot. Raphael absorbed the responsibilities and welcomed the role, becoming quite the team player. He caught 6 passes for 79 yards last season, including a touchdown at ole miss. The Bulldogs won’t need him much in the passing game, but if he can get open in a couple of crucial situations each game it will suit the offense perfectly. As is the case with most Fresno State fullbacks and tight ends, the main task is blocking and opening holes for the skill position guys.

Riley Barnes: A Barnes Burner
R-Fr, 6-3, 220
Tulare (Tulare Union HS)

Valley walk-on Riley Barnes has quickly ascended the depth chart and put in a serious battle for playing time. An impressive spring camp left coaches and fans thinking he could play an impact this season – and he may – but Barnes’ first couple of weeks were so-so. Not the type of performance he’d need to beat out veterans like Raphael for reps. That said, Barnes is more of a ‘tweener at the position and could also see time as a true tight end lining up on the line of scrimmage. The biggest concern with Barnes right now is his hands. He was inconsistent catching the ball from tight end and H-back in fall camp, but it’s obvious coaches expect a lot out of him with the attention and detail given to his assignments at practice.

Malique Micenhemier: More than Merely a Freshman
Fr, 6-1, 225
Stockton (McNair HS)

In one of the biggest moves of fall camp, true freshman Malique Micenheimer was moved from linebacker to fullback after Tapa Taumopeau’s season-ending injury. Micenhemier is a promising young linebacker, and one of the Bulldogs’ best looking recruits. He looked to have the potential to play linebacker as a true, but the move to fullback helps the Bulldogs at a position with far less depth. Micenheimer quickly got the comparisons to former ‘Dog great Lorenzo Neal because he’s also wearing No. 22, but it’s far too early for that. Neal was a premier ball carrier in college – something no fullback has been under Pat Hill. But Micenheimer did get a few carries in camp, and showed he can catch the ball out of the backfield and deliver blows. He’s a big, strong kid with a lot of promise at either position. And get this – he even took some first-team reps. It’s very likely he could play right away and also make an impact on special teams. Keep an eye on No. 22.

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