Two positions we haven't seen on a Kansas depth chart in recent memory are the fullback and the so-called utility position or h-back that both appear on the most recent release by Coach Gill.
These are two positions that would provide situational help. The fullback in Turner Gill's offense figures to primarily play a blocking role, while the utility player would appear to fit the mold of the tight end/receiver "tweener".
Today we break down the depth, the candidates and the outlook for the future at these two new opportunities within Kansas football.
Projected Depth Chart
FB: Steven Foster, Justin Puthoff, Tyler Hunt
Utility: A.J. Steward, Ted McNulty, Jimmay Mundine
Foster has the opportunity to write his own story of redemption. For a variety of reasons it didn't appear he was ever going to find a home with the last regime and the change presents a unique opportunity to reinvent himself that players don't always get.
At the beginning of spring ball Foster quickly grabbed the attention of the staff for his aggressiveness as a blocking back and his stated desire to just line up and hit somebody. At 6'1" nearly 260, he has the size to do that and as one of the states top backs in his class he certainly could provide a serviceable option should they choose to use the fullback as a running option or for the occasional pass out of the backfield.
A redshirt freshman, Puthoff walked on to Kansas after an all state capped career at linebacker in Goddard Kansas. At 6'3" 255 he also has great size and based on spring and early fall depth charts, he pretty clearly has pushed Foster for the starting job and if needed it's likely the staff would have 100% confidence in his ability to step in.
Another local product rounding out a trio of Kansas natives that could see the field in 2010 at fullback. Hunt is a walk on and a redshirt sophomore playing in his own backyard after earning all state honorable mention honors at Lawrence High.
Steward was recruited to Kansas and spent his first season as a quarterback even though it looked unlikely from the get go that he would stay at the position. He's a player who has constantly been viewed as someone who could have a high ceiling but he's never quite cracked the lineup and part of that was he didn't really have a home.
He's been described by some as one of the harder workers on the team and physically he's an impressive looking player. The opportunity to provide situational minutes at a position looked to for versatility could be exactly what he needs to make a mark and contribute to the team.
A redshirt junior three seasons in after walking on, McNulty was being mentioned on the two deep at the tight end position during spring. With the Jayhawk staff clearly going for a bigger tight end style with Biere and Deadeux that can block, McNulty seems like another natural fit at the utility position where he can be used a variety of ways.
6'5" 230 is certainly a nice size for the spot and interestingly McNulty was the scout team player of the week in 2008 when preparing for MIssouri. That would seem to indicate that he played the role of Chase Coffman fairly well.
When the jersey numbers for the freshman were released that was the first mention of an H-Back position because of Mundine's #41. At 6'2" 226 Mundine was an all state honorable mention tight end selection in the state of Texas while recording 62 catches for over 1000 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior.
With the last staff looking at him more as a linebacker, one would think he has the physical nature and aggressiveness to provide run blocking support to go along with playmaking ability downfield. This could be an exciting player to watch develop into this role in the future.
Looking Beyond 2010
There isn't a player on the list that Kansas loses after 2010 and in all reality the depth only get's stronger. Kansas has a transfer waiting for an opportunity at fullback in Nick Sizemore. They also have a walk on from Hutchinson in Josh Smith that will certainly play into the mix at some point. Overall, the position appears to be in good hands and it has to be exciting for any fan to see four of the five going forward claim Kansas as home.
At the utility spot again everyone is returning. What this position ends up looking like in the offense will probably determine who else we might see here or what recruits might fit the role. All in all, two more seasons for Steward including 2010 and an opportunity to make an impact for all three currently in the pipeline.