New Air Force fullbacks bring a physical style

FRANK SCHWAB Updated: August 5, 2011 at 12:00 am • Published: August 5, 2011

The rest of the Mountain West might not know new Air Force fullbacks Mike DeWitt and Wes Cobb, but those two backs want to leave some bruises for opponents to remember them by.

One thing DeWitt and Cobb have in common is a desire to hit people. Air Force defenders will probably be happy when September rolls around and the Falcons fullbacks have someone else to barrel into.

“We take a lot of pride in it,” DeWitt said. “You can’t just go out of bounds. You have to stay in bounds and get the extra yards.”

“To me, it’s who can deliver the biggest hit,” Cobb said. “That’s what football is all about.”

Defensive end Zach Payne has practiced against Cobb and DeWitt, and he knows what opposing players are in for.

“I’ve never hit anyone as hard as I’ve hit those two,” Payne said. “When they hit you, you feel it.”

The Falcons hope that the physical style of Cobb and DeWitt leads to production. Air Force has to replace three senior fullbacks – Jared Tew, Nathan Walker and Ryan Southworth – who combined to gain more than 1,000 yards last season.

Cobb and DeWitt have split time with the starting offense almost equally through the first week of training camp practice, showing neither has an edge in the competition. They’ll also be pushed by some freshmen, perhaps Ben Souther and Tyrone Sauls, during camp. If Cobb and DeWitt emerge as the top two fullbacks, an equal timeshare seems likely over for the first few weeks of the season.

“We’re going to go in there and split time, and I’m happy to just be a part of it,” DeWitt said. “We both got our strengths. We’re going to be a good tandem, I think.”

Sharing snaps is fine with both players, who are friends off the field. As DeWitt did an interview after practice, Cobb waited for him so the two could walk back to meetings together. They also have a little different style. Cobb is shorter so he is hard to bring down, and as a converted tailback he has a little different running approach. DeWitt is a more typical fullback at 6-1, 220 pounds. He might have been in the mix for playing time last year, but hurt his knee in training camp and never saw any snaps through the season.

“For the core things that a fullback needs in this offense, we both bring what they need pretty well,” Cobb said. “But we have our slight differences, just to mix it up.”

If Cobb and DeWitt share playing time, they could stay fresh into the fourth quarter. With their physical style, that could be a nightmare for opposing defenses late in games.

“You look to the third and fourth quarters you want the edge as you continuously pound them,” running backs coach Des Kitchings said. “And those guys are in great shape to wear them down later in the game.”

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