2012 Football Preview: Fullbacks and Tight Ends

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Tight end and fullback are the two positions that get talked about the least each preseason.  However, both spots play key roles in Virginia Tech’s running game.

For years Virginia Tech was known as an I-formation team.  Around the time of ACC expansion, Virginia Tech’s talent went up at tight end and down at fullback, and the Hokies successfully transitioned to more of an Ace formation (two tight ends, no fullback) offense.  Ever since then, Tech has leaned heavily to the Ace formation instead of the I-formation.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen even more transition.  Tech has had a lot of talented wide receivers, so we’ve seen more running out of shotgun/spread formations.  That’s something we could see more of in 2012, and we could also see some of the Pistol offense that was on display during the spring.

Even if they are running a Pistol offense, the coaching staff will need to decide if they want to run it primarily with a fullback, or with an extra tight end.  Much of it will depend on the personnel available, and it could also vary on a game-by-game basis depending on the personnel of the opponent.


Virginia Tech returns starting fullback Joey Phillips (5-11, 233, r-Sr.).  Phillips is Tech’s most experienced fullback.  He had 173 snaps on offense and another 53 on special teams a year ago.  Tech’s offense has steadily moved away from the fullback in recent years, but when they did use a fullback last season it was generally Phillips that they turned to.

Phillips is your typical Tech fullback.  He’s short, he’s bulky, he is a former walk-on, and he’s a Super Iron Hokie in the weight room.  Perhaps this says a lot about how inexperienced Tech’s tailbacks are, but Phillips has more ball carrying experience at the college level than any scholarship tailback on the team … all of three carries for two yards.

Riley Beiro (5-9, 232, r-So.) is the likely backup to Phillips.  He has a chance to earn some playing time for himself on the offensive side of the ball.  Beiro had five offensive snaps and 55 special teams plays a year ago.  Most of his experience came on the kickoff return team.  Like Phillips, he is a Super Iron Hokie.  Beiro can also do things with the ball in his hands.  He was a 1,400 yard rusher