Forget what you've seen from the fullback in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's offense the past two seasons. The 2011 season, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said, is the beginning of a new era.
"It's finally getting to where it needs to be," he said, "where you have an athletic guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield and can carry the ball multiple times a game out of multiple schemes."
Senior Thomas Green and true freshman Taharin Tyson are the Mocs' fullbacks this season and it's Tyson that Satterfield is describing. The 5-foot-11, 225-pound former all-state player at Alcoa High School brings a new dimension to a position that hasn't seen the ball much.
"He's a tailback in a fullback's body," Satterfield said. "He's got great vision, great ball skills, the physical capability to withstand the punishment of linebackers and still be about to go out and outflank a strong safety or linebacker and catch a ball in the flat."
Tyson will also be used as the short-yardage halfback, Satterfield said. Tyson had more than 100 carries for Alcoa last season, a total he probably won't reach this season.
"Maybe not 100 carries, but definitely 100 touches," Satterfield said.
As a ballcarrier Green doesn't have "as much wiggle as Taharin does," Satterfield said, but he has developed into a solid fullback. Green began his Mocs career as a linebacker before moving to fullback last season. As a junior he had one carry, a 2-yard gain against Auburn.
So far this preseason, Green said, the fullbacks are doing a lot of blocking but they're also catching more passes "than usual and some run plays that we didn't do much of last year."
Last season's starter, Courtland Ellzey, finished the season with 12 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown, and one 4-yard reception. In 2009, Shaun Kermah had just seven carries as the Mocs' starter.
Tyson rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season and he said he'll carry the ball as often as Satterfield wants.
"I know my role," he said. "It's good to come in and they're just up front with you and be honest and tell you what your role is, and you've got to accept it. If I didn't accept it I wouldn't have signed. I love it here and I love my role."
During Tuesday morning's practice the offense and defense made about an equal number of plays, which is about what you want, coach Russ Huesman said. It was a better showing by the defense, which had struggled in the previous two practices.
The Mocs will be up early this morning for a 6:30 practice at Scrappy Moore Field.
Linebacker Shane Heatherly (ankle), cornerback Chaz Moore (shoulder), tight end Jarrod Coleman (shoulder), quarterback Terrell Robinson (turf toe) and guard Omre Harris (foot) did not practice. ... UTC will have its third annual Meet the Mocs autograph session at 1 p.m. Saturday on the field at Finley Stadium. The team's scrimmage begins at 2:30.