Oklahoma football: Why J.D. Runnels takes pride in the Sooners' sustained fullback success

by Jason Kersey Modified: April 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm •  Published: April 26, 2014


photo - Cincinnati Bengals running back J.D. Runnels Jr. catches a  pass at their NFL football training camp , Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009, in Georgetown, Ky. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Bengals running back J.D. Runnels Jr. catches a pass at their NFL football training camp , Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009, in Georgetown, Ky. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

“They are smart, they have size and they can play multiple positions.”

That is the key, Millard said. OU likes to play up-tempo offense without huddling, and players like that make such a system much easier to run.

“The versatility adds a huge part to our offense, just because of the number of sets you can get into and not allow the defense to change personnel,” Millard said. “When you can go from two-backs to two-tight ends, to one-back, it’s hard for defenses to keep up with that many changes.

“And they have to try and match our personnel, so I think it gives a lot of mismatches. It allows for the offense to take advantage of those.”

Millard and Ripkowski became the Sooners’ primary tight ends last season, when the players who were recruited as tight ends weren’t consistent enough in practice to get on the field regularly.

Sophomore tight end Taylor McNamara appears primed to take the next step in his career, and the Sooner tight end room also added junior-college transfer Isaac Ijalana and former quarterback Blake Bell. That could free Flowers and Ripkowski up for more fullback work.

Flowers’ recruitment and quick immersion into the OU offense has made one thing perfectly clear: Stoops’ affection for fullbacks hasn't waned over the years.

“Bob’s an old-school guy,” Runnels said. “He likes big hits. He likes violent-type play. He likes that intensity, and that’s what I tried to bring. I cherished the role of being out there and playing, and blocking for guys like (Griffin) and (Adrian Peterson).”


by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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