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There's a science to scouting high school RBs. It's not production you look for, it's subtle signs that a runner can succeed against bigger and faster competition. Remember that these highlight videos are exactly that -- highlights. You learn just as much about players, RBs in particular, during lowlights. Barry Sanders never won anything because he lost yardage almost as often as he gained it, but his career numbers and highlights are among the best ever. You need both sides of the waffle.

 height=For a good recent example, watch Michael Goodson's highlights from his senior season. That tape was worthless. Play after play of gaping holes and straight shots to the endzone. Of course he turned out to be a very good player, but scanning through his film gave no indication of that. What happened when he didn't have unrealistically large holes? There were dozens of kids that could have achieved the same result in those circumstances. That's the key -- what does this player do that few others can't? More importantly, can you count on him to deliver consistent, chain moving runs?

Fozzy Whittaker has two things working for him. One, he has the power to remove women's clothing simply by saying his name three times, and the ability to always fall forward when he's tackled. When you think of guys like that, it's usually power backs that spring to mind, but in college ball you don't need to be a leviathan to do it. The fact that Fozzy can do it with the body of a wood nymph speaks to a two important qualities: quickness and instinct (vision and body lean, etc.).

Vision and quickness are of obvious importance, but they're often overlooked as a key to short yardage gains. Think about it from a LBs perspective. If you wanted to tackle somebody so as to make sure they got no extra yardage past the point of contact, you would want to hit them in a good, athletic football stance as straight on as you can get. Few backs have the power to simply barrel over people in that situation, but the most effective ones can still "pull" guys with them by making sure that they aren't hit as much as dragged.

Quick backs can keep LBs on their toes and not give them time to recoil, meaning tackles are made with no momentum and LBs moving sideways as a reaction, instead of as an attacker. If there is no opposite and equal reaction, you'll move forward. It's the difference between running into a 140 year old redwood and a 4 month old sapling. Don't let the defense put it's roots down.

The other half of this equation does come from the physical output of the runner, but it's more than strength. I wouldn't say Fozzy is freakishly strong or anything, but what he does have is the natural ability to maximize that output through leverage and balance. It's why weight room numbers play only a part of overall success, you have to be able to transfer those numbers to the field. Good football players have this ability internalized and do it naturally (much like the theory behind the 1 Year Rule), while those without this gift have to be athletic supermen to succeed (Adrian Peterson). Whittaker may have a low squat max (maybe, I have no idea) but he runs stronger than most and uses more of his strength than other RBs use of theirs, which is why other RBs end up at DE.

Selvin Young, post ankle injury, used to squat down and do that typewriter deal with his feet to juke people. Even when it worked, it was so slow that it allowed pursuit to bear down on him and limited his chances to break long runs. Jamaal Charles was always a better big play threat because he would always move forward when he made people miss. Since he was quick about dispatching defenders, he saved himself room to also juke the next guy.

What is rarely mentioned when talking about quickness is how it's used. Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young were both quick, but only one felt the defense moving and reacted to the big picture while still being able to dispatch defenders immediately in front of him. This is why Jamaal moved with a purpose, and lesser runners have to react to their surroundings, slowing them down.

Watch how quickly he gets upfield after his cut, and all the room he has to operate because of it. Look how far he goes before he meets the next defender. He doesn't split those two guys if he takes anymore time with that initial move. It's not about making one guy miss with him, it's about doing two things at once. On a macro scale, all he's doing is running to daylight. On a micro level, he's making people miss quickly, almost as an afterthought. You can tell his thought process when he runs is "I need to get there, oops better dodge this real quick." That excites me, since it's the mindset of pretty much every great RB ever except Earl Campell, who simply went where he pleased.

If you watch carefully, you'll see how late Fozzy noticed the defender he jumped over. He expected the block to hold, or the DE to go to the outside, but neither thing happened and Fozzy had to make him miss. It doesn't seem like much, but that lightning quick instincts what makes Fozzy Fozzy and Hodges Hodges.


This isn't something I'd get used to, because that LB would toss him into the stands in college, but it shows exactly why people fall off of him the way they'd fall off a guy 50 pounds heavier, balance and body lean. Nobody who weighs 150 pounds should be able to stand up to that, but he proves that it's not the size,it's the motion in the ocean. I don't know what that means, but women keep saying it to me and I like the way it sounds.There are only two kinds of RBs, the ones that don't make you work and the ones that do. The former category is full of RBs that only run as far as the defense lets them before getting clocked in the ear by a LB. The second type of runner is the kind that actually puts stress on the defense and punishes them for not having a bunch of dudes around the ball. Break the line of scrimmage and fun things happen. Fozzy is the second type, and even with his Lilliputian proclivities, should be the type of back that can pick through the mess at the line and do a lot of exciting things afterwards, like maybe take you to a Bennigan's where he knows a bartender that can hook you up.


Just for comparison's sake, here is an example of what shouldn't impress you:

Straight shot through the muck before easily dispatching a high school safety. That's called a McGuffie, and if you can't do it you probably have no business being a D-1A football running back, in which case please come play slot receiver for us.