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OU football: Clapp learning to be all things at fullback

By John Helsley Modified: September 4, 2008 at 12:37 am •  Published: September 4, 2008
There's been talk of a jumbo package that features Clapp — who is 6-foot-3, 234 pounds — at running back behind Eldridge at fullback. Clapp is also considered a good receiver, so versatility widens his possibilities.

Thus the slash.

"You saw in spring with our injuries, he could be our one back,” said OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "So it's not really like it's a new player, a new offense. It's just him being a bigger back. He's been really good.

"There's some flexibility.”

Still, there might not be much opportunity.

The Sooners are loaded at running back, with Murray and Brown again healthy and coaches trying to find room for Mossis Madu. In the spread, OU's receiving corps stretches similarly deep.

Could Clapp benefit from more slash?

"I have to continue improving on my running skills, my catching, my blocking of course,” he said, "because that's still my No. 1 priority, to block for these guys.”

Clapp is the lone scholarship true fullback on the Sooners' roster. His backups would be Eldridge, Trent Ratterree (another tight end) and defensive ends Alan Davis and Jeremy Beal.

Clearly, OU is not stockpiling fullbacks. And it's not like they're easy to find. High school programs in great numbers have embraced the spread, too, limiting prospects at that level.

"In the recruiting mode, I look at linebackers, I look at big running backs,” Wilson said. "Those are the type of bodies. Twenty years ago, they were the Wing-T fullback.

"Now in the gun spread, they're either the big runner if they have a little speed, or they're playing on defense.”

Matt Clapp

Fullbacks once were stars at OU, with some of the great players from the Sooners' past playing the position. The best:

1. Leon Heath 1948-50: An All-American dubbed the "Mule Train,” Heath led the nation with a 9.12-yards-per-carry average in 1949.

2. Prentice Gautt, 1957-59: Led the Sooners in rushing his final two seasons.

3. Buck McPhail 1950-52: An All-American who capably took the spotlight when Billy Vessels was injured in 1951.

4. Stanley Wilson 1979-82: His 3,198 career yards ranks No. 7 among OU rushers – No. 1 among fullbacks.

5. Jim Grisham 1962-64: No. 14 on OU's career rushing list, an All-American in 1963.

6. Kenny King 1975-78: A bolt up the middle, finished No. 13 in career rushing with 2,431 yards.

7. Billy Pricer 1954-56: A standout of the Wilkinson era.

8. Lydell Carr 1984-87: No. 9 on the all-time rushing list with 2,910 yards.

9. Leon Crosswhite, 1970-72: One of the great early wishbone fullbacks.

10. Waymon Clark, 1973: Just the one season, but ran for 1,014 yards.

By Berry Tramel


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