The job of a fullback is one that won’t come with much acclaim or praise. Often the fullback is the 12th man on an 11-man unit and taken off the field more so than ever before with a number of school’s implementing spread passing attacks with three and four wide receivers. However, LSU’s Connor Neighbors is trying to break the fold and emerge from relative obscurity and become a household name.
Connors, like most fullbacks, didn’t grow up with aspirations of serving as the personal battering ram for running backs who get all the glory after from fullbacks sacrificing their body into oncoming middle linebackers. But Neighbors is relishing his role in Cam Cameron’s offense after initially coming to Baton Rouge as a middle linebacker.
Breaking from the norm is nothing for the 5-11, 239-pound fullback considering his brother, father and grandfather all played for rival Alabama, but it was Neighbors who wanted to do something different.
“I did choose a different path, that’s for sure, Neighbors tells Paul Newberry. But I’m glad I came down here. It’s been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown up as a man.”
Neighbors has grown off-the-field as well as on as he has become a new toy for Cameron to use for the surprising Tiger offense which enters Saturday’s SEC opener vs. Auburn with the 12th ranked scoring offense.
Fullbacks don’t get the opportunity to touch the ball that often—he only has two carries for six yards in his two seasons—yet he is a nice safety valve for Zach Mettenberger out of the backfield. In the LSU win over Kent State, Neighbors got to show his running ability with a 52-yard catch and run, easily the longest play from scrimmage in his career.
Plays like that won’t happen very often—if ever again—but he knows that’s not his role on this team. “Changing positions when you’ve played defense your whole life isn’t too easy, Neighbors tells Randy Rosetta. Now I understand my role and how the offense works, and I can do my thing.”
He knows his job is to complement J.C. Copeland at the fullback position and open holes for running backs Jeremy Hill, Terrence Magee, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard and protect dark horse Heisman candidate Zach Mettenberger in the pocket.
If the opportunity arises for Neighbors to get a carry or his paws on the ball as a receiver, embrace what you are seeing, because the fullback is a dying breed and we won’t see guys like Neighbors much longer.