Senior fullback Moundros learning to play linebacker this spring

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Michigan fullback Mark Moundros (44) during Michigan's 28-13 loss at the University of Illinois on October 31st 2009 Buy this photo

BY TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Writer
Published April 14, 2010

Mark Moundros probably saw the writing on the wall.

In Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, the fullback wasn't going to be as vital as it had been for past Michigan teams. No more power-I formations on first-and-10, that's for sure. So the senior fullback decided to take matters into his own hands — he asked the coaching staff to let him play some linebacker.

And that's where Moundros has found himself this spring. But he will be playing both sides of the ball for the Wolverines, as he will continue to play fullback as well.

Moundros perfectly suits the fullback position in the sense that he’s a physical player. And with his style of play, Moundros requested to lay the hits on the offensive guys instead of protecting them.

“Mark’s a traitor — no, don’t put that in there,” offensive coordinator Calvin Magee joked last week. “Mark’s in the plans at fullback. He’s been that guy for a couple of years, we know he’s there.”

Last year, Moundros contributed on special teams in every contest. But in Rodriguez’s spread offense, the Wolverines have used a lot of two running back sets instead of featuring a fullback. And when the quarterback’s a threat to run, there are even fewer touches to be had for fullbacks in the offense.

To this point, Moundros has made a meager impact on the stat sheet with four career catches for 13 yards, three career rushes for 14 yards and just two career touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).

But after more than a month of spring practice Moundros has had time to get used to the new position and is catching the eye of his head coach.

“I don’t want to say it’s a surprise," Rodriguez said. "But a guy who’s shown he’s going to be able to help us over there is Mark Moundros. We’ve really been pleased. He’ll still play a little bit of offense, but our focus for all of spring, for Mark, has been on defense to learn that new position. He’s got a lot of intensity, he’s a strong guy and very passionate.

“I’ve really liked what I’ve seen out of Mark playing over there. I think it’s a move that’s probably going to stick. And at the same time probably help play some fullback.”

Tackling people isn’t anything new for the Farmington Hills native, he has 15 career special teams tackles. And though he hasn’t missed a game in three years, he has just 10 career starts at fullback.

Rodriguez added that the move this spring has been smoother because of the great spring that redshirt junior fullback John McColgan has had.

Moundros’s impact certainly has been meager, paving the way for running backs or stopping a returner in his tracks. But it is recognized.

He isn’t the most decorated Wolverine, but Moundros will attempt to prove his worth on both sides of the ball this season.