Everyone is going to get their share of carries and touches in a Jim Harbaugh offense and the fullback position is not exempt from that, as Michigan fans saw last season.
Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge were perfect examples of this last season. Houma finished the season with 261 total yards and five touchdowns while Kerridge chipped in with 95 total yards and a touchdown of his own.
Unfortunately for Michigan, both players graduated, leaving big shoes to fill at a position of great importance in Harbaugh’s system. However, the Wolverines feel they have the guys to pick up the slack, even if it is still a work in progress.
Rushes and receptions are flashy and what people notice most, but a fullback’s most important task is to open up holes in the run game as a blocker. As good as Houma and Kerridge were in 2015, the Wolverines struggled to run the football as a unit against their toughest opponents.
A more-consistent rushing attack is one of the keys to Michigan’s success in 2016. It will be one of the storylines to watch early on as they break in some new faces at the position.
Let’s take a look at those faces:
#80 | Redshirt Junior | 6-2, 263 pounds | Detroit, Michigan
2015 stats: 12 games | 4 catches, 71 yards
Hill entered Michigan as a tight end, where he has played his first three years in Ann Arbor. With the void at fullback, the staff is giving him a shot there and he has the skill-set to be successful. He has the size, physicality and athleticism for the position. If he is able to improve as a blocker, he could be another solid weapon for the Wolverines out of the backfield.
#19 | Redshirt Junior | 6-4, 257 pounds | Baltimore, Maryland
2015 stats: 12 games (1 start) | 1 catch, 2 yards
Poggi was recruited to Michigan as a defensive lineman, but started to see time at fullback in 2015 in a reserve role. The staff likes what he can bring to the table as a blocker, but he is still very raw at the position. Hill could see more of the carries, but Poggi looks like the battering ram and the juxtaposition of what the two can bring to the table will be something to keep an eye on this season.
Redshirt junior Wyatt Shallman and fifth-year senior Bobby Henderson are two other names to keep an eye on in a reserve role or on special teams. Junior Joe Beneducci and sophomore Nick Volk have yet to see game action in their careers at Michigan so far. Brian Chu is new to the team this year after playing club rugby at Michigan and enters as a walk-on. Spencer Dickow and Michael Hirsch are also walk-ons that are new in 2016.