Over the next few days the staff at BDJ will breakdown every position on Mississippi State's roster. Today Michael, Logan and Bob take a look at the Bulldog fullbacks.
Logan's overview: Mississippi State's fullbacks haven't made many headlines during the Dan Mullen era but make no mistake, they have been vital to the running game over the past two seasons. With the stable of running backs the Bulldogs have coming back this year the fullbacks role might be as important as ever.
Sylvester Hemphill: Hemphill is a former walk-on who has been in the mix with the departed Patrick Hanrahan the past two years at fullback. Hemphill is one of the strongest players on the MSU roster. He has a low-center of gravity which helps him plow through taller defensive linemen and linebackers. Hemphill has more experience than the other two fullback candidates and will likely receive the majority of the reps.
Adrian Marcus: Marcus is basically a halfback in a fullback's body. He could very easily be a starting running back for another program. Marcus is a great mix of speed and power. He has strong, thick legs which generate his power. Marcus has adapted well in the move from running back to fullback and should give the Bulldogs some versatility out of the position. He is easily the most athletic fullback of the bunch.
William Shumpert: Shumpert is really the only true fullback on the roster. He has yet to see any action since signing in 2009 having redshirted then missing last year with a back injury. But Shumpert appears to be back and busting open holes like he did before the injury. I was able to watch him play in high school and can tell you he's a fine defensive tackle as well, just a bit undersized for the SEC. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do on the field this fall.
Bob's Overview: It's tough to decipher what Mullen plans to do with the fullbacks at MSU in 2011. He has remained tight-lipped, but says this year's group is much more capable as runners, which observations have confirmed. However, he said that may not necessarily equal lots of carries. It's a good, talented group, but fullbacks surely have a different role in the spread offense.
Sylvester Hemphill: Hemphill is one of the more physically impressive players in the backfield and brings a lot to the game. Much like Vick Ballard at running back, Hemphill is good at all things, but probably not overwhelmingly great at anything.
Adrian Marcus: If I had to pick one fullback, it's this guy. He showed out big time as a runner in the spring and has the size to be a good fullback. He will have an opportunity for extra snaps because of his versatility.
William Shumpert: As Logan said, Shump is really the one true fullback of the group and when healthy he certainly has the ability to pave large holes for MSU's backs to get through. In fall training camp, he definitely looked healthy. Marcus may be the receiving fullback, but in short-yardage situations, Shumpert is the guy.
Michael's overview: Many times the offensive linemen say they are the unsung heroes of the running game. While that may be true, the group that is more often overlooked but no less important is the fullbacks. In the Mullen offense, the fullbacks aren't just blocking backs or decoys. Fullbacks are expected to contribute in all aspects of the game, blocking, running, and receiving. This season's group certainly has the skill set to have an impact on the offense.
Sylvester Hemphill: Hemphill is the hammer in the Bulldogs offense this season. He has to fill the shoes of Harahan and he is certainly capable of doing the job. He is simply one of the more physical players on this year's team, a quality you like in a fullback. You will primarily see Hemphill as a blocking fullback, but he can get the Bulldogs the tough yards in short-yardage situations.
Adrian Marcus: Marcus is the most versatile of the fullbacks. He blocks adequately while having good hands in the passing game and true running back skills in the ground game. His athleticism gives State the biggest mismatch at fullback.
William Shumpert: After sitting out last season due to injury Shumpert is poised to see his first action as a Bulldog. While we haven't seen enough from Shumpert to know his complete skill set we do know that he is physical. He isn't afraid to stick his head in the pile and make a hole for the running backs. He will certainly benefit from playing with Marcus and Hemphill as he can learn and make progress at his own pace.