Starters: Niko Palazeti, Trevon Pendleton
Departures: Todd Anderson
The fullbacks took a beating last year. The fullbacks take a beating every year, that’s their job. Oh, they also deliver beatings(to High School Spanish Teachers and everyone else on the Adam Sandler CD from way back when.) When they drop the hammer, they are Fight Club style hits designed to take blitzing linebackers out of plays. The traditional I-formation fullback has been replaced in both college and the pros by a more H-backy fella who might line up wide or motion presnap. As a result, fewer teams are giving out scholarship rides to fullbacks and instead using athletic Tight Ends to handle big pieces of the H-back job.(See Linthicum, Brian)
Todd Anderson leaves MSU after a 2011 where he caught 6 passes for 40 yards and a Touchdown. He also had one carry for one yard against Indiana in 2011, so obviously we’re not talking huge chunks of offensive yardage here. But the bruises! Oh the Glorious Bruises!
I have known three dudes named Niko in my life, none of them well and all of them could beat me to death with their eyebrows. I suspect that this Niko is no different. I just looked it up, Niko actually means “Victory of the People” He was the only fullback to be recruited as a fullback to come play at MSU. In 2011, he caught one pass for 2 yards against Indiana and caught a couple passes in the Spring Game. In high school, he rushed 224 times for 1279 yards and 24 TDs his senior year. Palazeti is entering his redshirt sophomore year so if he’s the right mix of athletic and boxer you’ll be noticing him for a few years.
Trevon Pendleton is a redshirt freshman this year. He’s walked on at MSU, but turned down offers from Ball State and Air Force. Hokeamania? He turned down the hallowed stomping grounds of Hokeamania? Anyway, Pendleton was the number three ranked fullback in the class of 2011. He had a few catches in the Spring game and figures to be the next guy up should we lose Palazeti for any reason. He rushed 88 times for 967 yards in his senior year of High School which is good for 11 yards a carry. He also had 78 tackles on defense.
These are the guys right here who will start at Fullback, so much as anyone starts there. This year it would be a huge improvement in my mind if they can assist in picking up short yardage situations so you don’t see five wide on 3rd and 2 a few times a game. These guys are both a bit smaller than Todd Anderson was last year and as a result likely a bit more athletic. You should be able to get a good sniff on how much more or less MSU will rely on it’s linebackers this year pretty early on against a lightweight Boise State defense.
The Other Guys
Taylor Calero was recruited to MSU as a part of the 2010 recruiting class and had the JLS offer sheet(Indiana and the MAC). He came to Michigan State as a defensive end and is transitioning into the fullback role this year. I don’t have all of the information, but I seem to recall him struggling with injury at some point between his commitment and now. Senior Jeff Bobek was recruited as an inside linebacker and decided to walk-on at Michigan State. Neither are expected to see significant field time this year.
It’s tough to write that the fullback will have a huge role because they just don’t get used enough. As I talked about in the starter summary, the best and most immediate impact any fullback could have is to allow MSU to obliterate their opponents in short yardage. I haven’t seen enough of either of these guys to know if they’ve got the blast their linebacker into space power. Treadwell also tended to use the Fullback to roll out into the flat and catch passes more often than Roushar and again, I haven’t seen enough of these guys to know if that’s a strength of theirs.
So in short, MOAR RUNNING on 3rd and short probably means YAY FULLBACKS!