2012 FBs: Promising Prospects

Zach Swanson (orange jersey) is the projected starter at FB, but converted S Lovante' Battle is an interesting prospect for a FB. Let's take a look at those two, along with walkon Billy Skrobacz, and how the FB will fit into this year's offense.
Previous UVA Football
Position Breakdowns
* Quarterbacks
* Running Backs

I was debating simply adding this to the end of the RBs column, since FBs tend to be an afterthought anyway, but I decided against it for a couple of reasons. First, I want to keep these pieces on the smaller side. But second, and more importantly, there are a few very interesting candidates to play FB for the Hoos this year, and I wanted to make sure they get their due.

After a few years of phasing the FB out of the offense, Bill Lazor's offense actually uses the FB. Considering the depth the team has in the backfield and at WR, we may see less of the FB than we did a year ago, but the position will still be a big part of the offense. Last year's starter, Max Milien, had 22 receptions for 264 yards and 2 TDs. He also carried the ball 5 times. Milien is gone, so let's take a look at the candidates to replace him.

On the post-spring depth chart (note: PDF), the starting FB is converted TE Zach Swanson (Swanson changed his number from 87 to 49 as part of his position change). Swanson is really more of an H-back, a hybrid TE/FB position. He can be a lead blocker, although he’s not exactly ideally suited for that task. Where Swanson will really excel is as a receiver out of the backfield.Swanson proved dangerous as a receiver in the spring game, with 3 receptions.

The second player listed on the depth chart is Billy Skrobacz. The walk on is a more "prototypical" fullback. He's a hard-nosed, all effort kind of guy. Skrobacz isn't going to blow anybody away with his size or athleticism, but he'll stick his nose in wherever it needs to be. Skrobacz isn't going to be very dangerous with the ball in his hands, but as a lead blocker in short yardage or goalline situations, he could be useful.

The most interesting player on the FB depth chart is actually listed third. That is converted safety LoVante' Battle. Battle has spent 3 years as a S/LB, but hasn't ever made an impact, playing almost exclusively on special teams and totalling just 16 tackles in 3 years. As a FB, Battle's speed and quickness are intriguing. He obviously needs to learn the ins and outs of blocking, but he could be a dangerous weapon with the ball in his hands. (Battle also changed his number, from 37 to 4.)

Swanson has had more time at FB, and after being a TE, is going to be more comfortable in the H-back role that Bill Lazor utilizes. Swanson also has a lot more experience blocking than the other candidates. However, Battle should see some playing, as he provides more speed and quickness than Swanson. Battle is the type of player who could potentially take a simple swing pass and make a big play out of it.

As I mentioned above, the plethora of options this team has at RB and WR makes the FB somewhat less important this year as opposed to last. That said, the options at FB are promising in their own right, and figure to have a big impact on the season.

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