Aug. 12, 2009
By Alfredo V. Moreno - UNM Assistant Media Relations Director
When head coach Mike Locksley arrived at the University of New Mexico with his explosive spread offense, many people may have thought the Lobos were installing a Texas Tech-style, pass-dominated system. During spring practice, however, Locksley and offensive coordinator Darryl Dickey proved that the versatile New Mexico spread wouldn't hesitate to play smashmouth football, especially with a talent like junior Josh Fussell at fullback.
Fussell, who came to UNM as a tight end, made an immediate impression on the coaching staff during the spring. The 6-2 Fussell bulked up to 255 pounds to make himself even more of a force as a blocker and power runner to go along with his stellar hands.
The Plant City, Fla. product spent the past two seasons (25 games) rotating off the bench with standout Matt Quillen, but will get his chance to make a big impact in the multiple offense in 2009.
I caught up with Fussell after a productive morning practice today to get his thoughts on training camp and his role in the offense.
Well, we're almost a week into training camp - how comfortable are you with the new offensive system?
I feel pretty good. Coming out of the spring we had pretty much learned the whole offense, working with coach Dickey and coach Locks, so I feel pretty confident with where we're at right now.
You were a three-year starter at tight end in high school and spent your first fall at that position here at UNM - how difficult was the adjustment to fullback at the Division I level?
The coaches thought I'd get more playing time at fullback, so that's why I made the switch. I'm pretty happy with it. I've learned a lot of different blocking techniques and made myself a better player at this position, so it's not too bad.
Talk about playing with a guy like Matt Quillen - your prototypical fullback - the past two years - what kind of things did you learn from him?
Oh, Matt was a great influence on me. I learned a lot from him. I'm just trying to fill his shoes for now. It's a tall order, but I think I can do it.
Since the 2008 season ended what have you been doing to make yourself a better player and prepare yourself to take on a bigger role in this offense?
Coach (Troy) Hatton has been with us in the spring and all summer and has been working our butts off, getting us better in the weight room and with conditioning to prepare us for one of our toughest seasons. Personally, I've been polishing some of my passing routes and blocking techniques.
Okay, let's flash forward. It's Sept. 5, we're in the visitors locker room at Kyle Field in College Station and you're thinking to yourself "man, I just played a great game out there," - what would you have just done on the field?
Knocking guys out, getting our guys lots of touchdowns and rushing yards on the ground...and maybe a couple of catches here and there.
When you were first recruited by UNM did you have any knowledge about the school?
Not really. It was far from home, but when I took the tour of the campus and visited the facilities, I was impressed and started really looking forward to it.
What's your favorite thing about living in Albuquerque?
I've got to say the weather. In Florida, it would be hot and humid, but here it's pretty good. It gets warm, but never too hot and it cools off at night, and you rarely have to worry about the humidity.
Now when you go visit home, what's the No. 1 thing you look forward to doing when you step off that plane?
Pretty much just sitting on the couch at home, talking with the family and just being around everybody again. That's a lot of fun for me.