“I think that’s the foundation of football right there. When you have a fullback, you’re just pounding the ball. Short yardage, goal line; things like that. That’s what you love. To get a fullback in here, that means maybe we’ll start getting into some more I-Formation stuff and just pound the rock.”
— Chris Thompson
“I’m going to go in there, try to smack some heads around and show them what I’ve got. One reason that I think they liked me is because I’m a bit versatile. I’ve got to prove that to them that I can go out in the flat and catch the football and get upfield while also blocking linebackers — anything they need me to do so that I don’t have to come out of the game.”
— Elijah Wellman
A quick word on Wellman’s college career
The Smoking Musket is the SB Nation site for the West Virginia Mountaneers. In August last year, ahead of Wellman’s 2017 senior season, they published an article titled, “Against all odds, Elijah Wellman has made Dana Holgorsen love the Fullback”.
Who knows? Maybe Wellman can overcome the odds again and work his magic on Jay Gruden.
The subtitle to the Smoking Musket article was, “Wellman is every fullback cliche personified, and that’s not a bad thing at all”. Let’s have a look at what that article had to say about the Redskins fullback:
Elijah Wellman, FB, No. 28
Hometown: Huntington, WV
High School: Spring Valley High School
How he got to Morgantown
Wellman was a three time AAA All-State player at Spring Valley High School in Huntington. In his senior campaign, he won the Sam Huff Award as the best defensive player in West Virginia. After redshirting in 2013, he has seen significant action in every season since.
Elijah has gotten just about every cliche in the book thrown towards him as we get closer to September 3rd. Hardworking, blue-collar attitude, lunch pail mentality, titles, titles, titles. As much as we can mock the coach speak, Wellman is an extremely important part of the Mountaineers monster backfield. Our most potent running attack comes out of the loaded pistol, and the most effective way to use that is with Wellman leading the way.
[L]ook for Wellman to be more involved in the passing game as a pseudo-tight end, another way to help solve the seemingly everlasting red zone futility that has plagued West Virginia for the last few seasons.
Wellman may signal a renewed commitment to the run game by Redskin head coach, Jay Gruden
Diane Cheesebrough recently wrote a spotlight article about Elijah Wellman published on USA Today’s RedskinsWire.
There are a variety of reasons that Washington hasn’t been able to consistently move the chains via the run over the past several seasons: talent (or, some would say, ‘lack thereof’), scheme, play-calling and execution are but a few. Regarding execution specifically, it wasn’t only the running backs who struggled… it’s also that other skill position players (tight ends, for instance) haven’t blocked effectively for the rushers at times.
But the team now has a FB on the roster and veteran RB Chris Thompson couldn’t be happier about it.
Any fan who wants to see a better Redskins ground game should be glad as well because fullbacks can be important to a successful rushing attack. With the problems the Redskins have had dedicating themselves to — and executing — the run, perhaps bringing a bona fide fullback onto the team indicates a genuine commitment to running the ball.
Wellman, listed at 6-2 and 241 lbs., has played a multitude of positions since he first stepped onto the gridiron. Depending on whatever website one loads on the computer to get his information, he is shown as a linebacker, a tight end and a fullback. The latter position is how he is listed for the Burgundy and gold.
It’s interesting that the Redskins made the move because the FB position seems to be a dying breed in the NFL.
Neither of the Redskins tight ends, Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, have been great at making lanes for the Redskin’ rushers. Second-year player Jeremy Sprinkle has potential, but he is still young.
However, with a new QB in Alex Smith and a very talented new RB in Derrius Guice, Washington perhaps merely did whatever is necessary to improve this part of its offense by bringing a true FB into the fold.
Here are comments from Gibbs4potus after watching Wellman on film:
Elijah Wellman was a very effective blocker for West Virginia over the past three seasons. He lined up as a fullback to one side of the quarterback, Will Grier, in the 2017 offense. Wellman also lined up on the wing and was used for angle blocks from that spot, for the most part.
There isn’t much film to find on YouTube of Wellman. If you’re interested in seeing him play for yourself, you can watch the Justin Crawford cutups from the 2016 season on YouTube. Wellman is number 28. I watched the Will Grier cutups from 2017 also but Wellman was not on many plays in those.
Wellman was almost a non-factor in the passing game for WVU. He did pass-block a bit, but the Mountaineers would usually take him out on obvious passing downs. In four years with the team, Wellman only caught 16 passes for 71 yards — but for three touchdowns.
Wellman also ran the ball 35 times for 137 yards and one touchdown while at West Virginia.
At 6’1” and 241 pounds, I expected that he would have been used more as a goal line runner during his college career.
Wellman isn’t very fast with a 4.82 40 yard dash time but he did well on the shuttle with a 4.22 second time and on the 3-cone drill with a 6.83 second time.
I don’t think there is much of a possibility of Wellman making the 53 man roster for the Redskins. Head coach, Jay Gruden doesn’t use fullbacks very often and when he does line up a blocker in the backfield, he typically uses a tight end to do that role. I expect Jeremy Sprinkle to be the man for that in 2018 — and Gruden could even use first round draft pick, DaRon Payne, there also since he was a goal line fullback in 2017 at Alabama.
It just doesn’t seem likely that Gruden would use a roster spot on a fullback when it could be more valuable to the team to have an extra safety, running back or offensive lineman.
Even making the practice squad could be a stretch for Wellman. Gruden hasn’t had a roster or practice squad spot devoted to a fullback since Darrel Young last played for the Redskins in 2015 — a season that saw DY with a diminished role.
There are many good young players who will be pushing hard for a spot on the Redskins practice squad this year, so I don’t think they will have room for Wellman. At this point, he looks like a camp body.
With all due respect to Gibbs4potus and his opinion of the fullback’s chances, Elijah Wellman feels differently. He spoke to the Charleston Gazette-Mail about his opportunity with the Redskins.
“I had a few calls from some other people, but I made a list from Nos. 1 to 32 with my agent on the best fit and the Redskins were in the top five,” Wellman said. “When they offered me, I couldn’t pass it up because they were a good fit for me.”
For the 6-foot-3, 235-pound fullback, Washington presents a good opportunity. The Redskins did not have a fullback on the 2017 roster, instead opting to use a tight end in two-back situations.
That means Wellman is looking to showcase his abilities and prove that he can fit whatever need is deemed necessary by the staff.
“I’m going to go in there, try to smack some heads around and show them what I’ve got,” Wellman said. “One reason that I think they liked me is because I’m a bit versatile. I’ve got to prove that to them that I can go out in the flat and catch the football and get upfield while also blocking linebackers — anything they need me to do so that I don’t have to come out of the game.”
A final thought from Bill-in-Bangkok
We’ve seen Jay Gruden use tight ends at the fullback position. With Elijah Wellman’s positional versatility, we may see Jay try out a new idea.
We all know that one of the problems in the run game recently has been poor tight end blocking. Perhaps Elijah Wellman will be listed as a FB on the roster, but line up as a tight end on running plays where the team needs good blocking to get needed yards.
I think that the Redskins had to have a reason for bringing Wellman to the team, and the things that jump off the page when I read about him are his versatility, his blue collar work ethic, and his willingness to do whatever it takes.
Maybe — just maybe — there’s a role for Elijah Wellman on the Redskins football team as a “lunchpail slash”: fullback / receiver / blocking tight end / special teamer.
I’ll be watching him with interest this summer.
Some Tweets from Elijah Wellman’s Twitter timeline:
Congratulations to @BigLij28 ! The newest member of the Washington Redskins and Spring Valley’s 1st NFL Player! The entire Spring Valley community is proud of you!— SVHS Football (@SVwolvesFB) April 29, 2018
Jacked up bc I got my first painful burn of 2018 already today out on the lake and it's gonna be nice again tomorrow. #embracetheburn— Elijah Wellman ⚡ (@BigLij28) April 13, 2018
WVU vs. Marshall second round. They should bring it back to Charleston, WV and sell out the civic center in a matter of 10 minutes. It would be awesome. #WVonthemap— Elijah Wellman ⚡ (@BigLij28) March 16, 2018
Wish I had a pet coyote— Elijah Wellman ⚡ (@BigLij28) February 20, 2018
Just realized I'm not much of a tweeter lol— Elijah Wellman ⚡ (@BigLij28) January 24, 2018
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