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October 16, 2012

Joyer comfortable, productive at fullback



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    In a world of spread offenses, air-it-out attacks and perimeter run games, the fullback position has become a lost art.

    Take a look at 2013's Rivals rankings: There are only five prospects ranked at the position. None are rated as more than a three-star player. It was the same last year and the year before.

    "I guess people probably get bored just pounding it, running all the time, so they want to throw and try to score a lot of points," Florida fullback Hunter Joyer said. "I think that's kind of where it gets lost."

    Joyer hasn't always been a fullback. He used to be the running back, the player who receives the fruits of the labor that he now carries on his thick shoulders. He ran for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as a high school sophomore. His recruitment picked up from there, but his 5-foot-10, 249-pound frame made him more fullback than tailback.

    Eyes don't stay glued to a fullback like they do a running back. Teams don't specifically game-plan for you and you almost never get credited for a team's success.

    So when Joyer was challenged this offseason to adapt his game more to that of a traditional fullback capable of playing blocks up front and at the point of attack, it could have been easy for him to lose his spirit. After all, it was only the sophomore's second fall camp at the position.

    Soft-spoken and not a fan of the spotlight, it wasn't hard for Joyer to grow accustomed to his role, said quarterback Jeff Driskel. He didn't get attention, but he didn't want it either.

    "He's a very unselfish player and epitomizes what we want here at Florida," UF coach Will Muschamp said.

    Joyer's unselfish play has been one of the most underrated factors to the Gators' run-game prowess this season. As Mike Gillislee's lead blocker, he has served as the springboard for the senior's 624 yards rushing and seven touchdowns through six games.

    One of his favorite moments of the season was the block that sealed off the edge on Trey Burton's 80-yard touchdown run against Tennessee.

    These are now his highlights - contributions that lead to someone else's glory. Every play is a physical decision. The majority of the time, he is simply looking for a free body to hit. He has two carries for one yard this season. It's a far cry from last year when he had two touchdowns on 18 carries because he was the team's only short-yardage option.

    But he doesn't mind.

    "I'm good. I'll sleep at night," Joyer said.

    Friends and family ask him why he isn't getting carries. To those who glorify him for accepting a less-glamorous role, he says it's "not a big deal."

    He could very well be the one smiling when his four years are done. They still use fullbacks in the National Football League.



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