Virginia Running Backs Coach Mike Faragalli reaffirmed Wednesday that fifth-year senior Max Milien (Yorktown) is the team’s No. 1 fullback.
In seven starts last season, Milien – a converted tailback who is listed at 6-foot-0 and 220 pounds – tallied 45 yards and a touchdown on four carries and 75 yards on eight receptions.
Milien “has got that tailback speed,” Faragalli said. “He’s very fast. He’s got outstanding hands and ball skills. He’s not a smaller guy, so he can do a lot of the fullback blocking, as well as the inside receiver stuff and the routes that the fullbacks run. He’s kind of the do-it-all guy that we have back there.
“He’s also a very good pass blocker, so there’s a chance during the course of the year where he may be in as the one back in that type of a role, a third-down/blitz-pick-up kind of a role.”
Fifth-year senior Terence Fells-Danzer and redshirt freshman Zach Swanson are behind Milien on the depth chart.
Of Fell-Danzer, a former linebacker who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Faragalli said: “This being his second year, he’s picking things up a lot better, as far as the nuances of the position, the blocking technique, the targeting, where to put your eyes, where to put your hands. All the fine points of the game, he’s getting much better at that.”
Regarding Swanson (6-foot-6 and 235 pounds), who recently switched to fullback after beginning his collegiate career as a tight end, Faragalli said: “He’s tall, so it’s a little bit harder for him to get his pads under people. But he is not shy. He will run in there and put his body on your body, and we really like that about him.”
As for the tailbacks, Faragalli reiterated what Virginia Coach Mike London said Tuesday, which was that the Cavaliers plan to use 3-4 tailbacks in specific roles this season. Those tailbacks include junior Perry Jones, redshirt freshmen Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd and true freshman Clifton Richardson.
“When we do go to a spread out-type situation with two tailbacks in the game, (Jones or Shepherd) will be the receiving back, and then Kevin or Clifton would be in the backfield as the I-back type guys,” Faragalli said.
Jones – the starter – caught 31 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown in 2010, and Faragalli offered praise of Jones’s ability as a receiver.
“From a downfield, pass-receiving standpoint, I think Perry is certainly as good as a lot of wide receivers in” the ACC, Faragalli said. “And Khalek is learning to be that type of player, as well.”
When asked about Virginia’s offensive line – which returns four of five starters – Faragalli said one of its most endearing qualities is its nastiness.
“I love our line,” he said. “They’re obviously big and strong, but they’re kind of nasty too a little bit, which is a running back’s dream. I mean, those guys will hit you and keep hitting you and keep hitting you until they hear the whistle. And they’ll cover downfield. They won’t take anything from anybody. They don’t ever back down. I love the attitude that they play with. They play with an edge. They play hard. They’re big. And they’re really tough. It’s a lot of fun.”