April 15, 2009

Veteran fullbacks benefited Jones

MADISON, Wis. - As both Chris Pressley and Bill Rentmeester exhausted their collegiate eligibility last fall, young fullback Dex Jones utilized his redshirt year and took in everything he could from the veterans. Now, as winter has turned to spring, Jones, along with Sam Spitz is manning the fullback position.

Following Tuesday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Jones, who has been practicing at both fullback and tailback throughout spring ball. The following is a question and answer with the redshirt freshman.

Spring ball is kind of winding down, how has it been going for you?

Jones: It's been a learning process, just trying to get the whole offensive playbook down pat this spring which should happen. It's probably the biggest part of spring ball.

Does it make it even harder because you're playing a little tailback as well as fullback?

Jones: Just a little bit. I think with Clay (John Clay), Zach Brown and Erik Smith in spring ball we do a lot of hitting. And I think your body starts to wear down. So I think they put me at tailback just to kind of help those guys out. It comes with the offense. Once you learn the fullback position, you kind of get an understanding of the running back position too. There are a couple of things that are different, but other than that, they pretty much go along with each other.

Last year, you got the chance to watch Pressley and Rentmeester a little bit. What did you pick up from them?

Jones: Definitely physicality. You know, they're big thing, redshirting and watching them, is being the tone setters and being the physical presence of the offense and starting every play.

Is that what you really need to be as a fullback. Do you need to be real physical?

Jones: Yeah, definitely. You definitely need to be a tone setter. It's all mental. You have to prepare yourself mentally to be a physical player.

You talked about the playbook a little bit, are you feeling comfortable with that especially coming off a redshirt?

Jones: Yeah, definitely. Obviously learning the whole offensive playbook isn't going to come to you within a season, a spring, but it's definitely from the start of spring ball to now, I know a lot more than I did before.

Were they recruiting you as a fullback coming in?

Jones: It was kind of a couple of different things. I think with obviously Pressley and Rentmeester being fifth year seniors, I knew I'd be playing the fullback position.

Had you played it in high school, or were you a running back back then?

Jones: I was a running back in high school.

So the stuff kind of just translates a little bit into the college game then?

Jones: Yeah, pretty much.

As a fullback, who would you say on the defense here is the toughest to pick up when they come through the line?

Jones: Toughest to pick up on? Oh, man. I'd give it to Jaevery McFadden or Culmer St. Jean.

They're just so big?

Jones: I mean, when you have linebackers that have been in that defense for a couple of years, they understand every little aspect. They understand plays from my alignment so they have a head jump on the play. Those guys are probably the hardest to block, the most physical.

Is that the hardest part of being a fullback, picking up the blitz?

Jones: You know, it depends. Really, I think the hardest part about fullback is it's more of a mental aspect. Play after play after play after play, you're in the trenches. When you're in, you're expecting to be in the trenches. I think the hardest thing about fullback is being mentally physical. Knowing that this is your job and this is what you've got to do.

With your versatility, has there been any talk of you getting any carries?

Jones: Yeah, a little bit. They've told me to be prepared. Like I said, just with Clay, Zach and Erik, we're actually three running backs. In the Big Ten, that's kind of short, so just in case someone gets banged up, you're always, obviously from any position, you're one play from having to step in and make plays.

I know UW hasn't historically thrown to the fullback a lot, but are you comfortable catching a ball?

Jones: Oh yeah definitely and I think that is one part of the game I think I bring a little bit. Just playing my offense in high school, we passed a lot and then we'd run. So I think I have that arsenal. I think that obviously gives me another notch to my belt being fullback too.

When you're not getting a lot of carries like a traditional running back does, is it kind of rewarding for you when you have the lead block that springs the back for a long run?

Jones: Yeah, definitely. That's the biggest part of our position and that's accepting the role. I know as a redshirt and a freshman, my job is to come in and block for big Clay and Zach Brown and the offense. When you feel like you've smacked someone and you see Clay and Zach rip right past you, you know you did your job. It's a mental indoctrination to you.

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