Army Spring Depth Chart Review: Fullback

Larry Dixon (Danny Wild-US Today Sports)

Army was the first in the FBS to complete spring drills. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler will review each Black Knight position to project a starter, a backup and a player to watch. Today he'll discuss the fullback position.



FULLBACK or B-BACK
Starter: Larry Dixon #26 Jr.
Back up: Hayden Tippett #45 Sr.
Third String: Matt Giachinta #40 So.

Larry Dixon had a very productive spring practice and ripped off a number of long runs. The junior had a productive 2012 season at the B-back or fullback position. Dixon started eleven of the twelve games last season. Dixon finished the year with 140 carries for 839 yards, averaged six yards per carry and scored six touchdowns. Dixon began last year rushing for at least 112 yards in three of the first five games while scoring five touchdowns before nagging injuries took their toll. Larry injured his hamstring against Kent State and a few games later his ankle against Rutgers. The injuries slowed him down in the second half. He missed the Eastern Michigan game and was limited against Ball State.

Dixon has a tremendously powerful lower body, huge thighs with an excellent leg drive. He has exceptional balance and quick feet. At his best he has a good burst, is extremely physical and was tackled only once for a loss the entire season. Dixon lacks a second gear, which was hampered even more by his second half injuries, and he was usually run down when he broke free in the open field. While Dixon was involved in the fumbled mesh hand-off on the last drive against Navy, he fumbled just three times the entire year. Dixon is also a very good lead blocker when Army runs its counters.

Senior Hayden Tippett (photo at right) started spring practice on the defensive side of the ball at Mike linebacker. The former Arizona Desert Sky Region Defensive Player of the Year by all accounts did a solid job but the staff felt he was a better player at fullback. That's not surprising since last season Tippett's physical, bull-in-a-china shop type running style allowed him to beat out former thousand yard rusher Jared Hassin for the backup slot last fall. Tippett played well when called upon. He appeared in all twelve games and started two at fullback. Hayden ran hard (46 attempts, 234 yards, 5.1 avg., 1 TD) in his appearances demonstrating both power and strength. Hayden started the Eastern Michigan and Temple games. His best game was against Ball State after Dixon aggravated his sore hamstring. Tippett ran twenty times for 100 yards. He finished Army's first touchdown drive by running over Ball State's defensive back J.C. Wade to score on a 7-yard touchdown run. Uncharacteristically Tippett did fumble to end a promising drive just before the end of the first half in the same game against Ball State. That was Tippett's only fumble all year and he was never tackled for a loss.

Sophomore Matt Giachinta (6-1, 210) won the third string job this spring. Giachinta started for the Army JV team last year and was promoted to the varsity after the JV season ended. He saw time against Rutgers when he carried two times for six yards on the last series after the game was decided. Giachinta is a local product from New Jersey. He attended the United States Military Academy Prep school in 2011 but was injured during preseason camp and missed the entire season. Matt is a well-built player with decent speed. He showed he could catch the ball out of the backfield when he caught a touchdown pass against Princeton JV. He also caught a pass with one hand that was behind his back versus Gattaca Prep.

The player to watch in the future at fullback will probably be the incoming plebe who was the offensive MVP at the prep school last fall. We'll discuss him and his teammates in our Incoming features on the freshman joining the program this fall after R-Day.

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