In an informal poll conducted by The Post, just seven high school teams ranked in The Post’s Top 20 said they employ a blocking fullback in their base offense. At the NFL level, there are only 24 fullbacks listed across the 32 active rosters, and since 2007, no high school players listed as fullbacks have cracked the ESPN 150 recruit rankings. In 2006, two fullbacks made the list, and this year, a fullback was ranked No. 289 on the list, which was expanded to 300 in 2010.
“Fullback is an [undervalued] position that can add toughness and protection, but teams have been moving away from it,” said Virginia running backs coach Larry Lewis, whose team has four fullbacks listed on its roster. “Teams are more likely to recruit another linebacker or tight end and then convert him to fullback. At the end of the day, schools make decisions based on what fits their offense and what they need.”
In the summer of 2012, Kavaljian was in prime position to become Fairfax’s next featured running back. But when explosive rusher Nick Scott transferred to the school from Massachusetts, the rising junior knew he needed to find a different niche to remain an integral part of the Rebels’ offense.
“I like to run and get the ball, but I also love blocking and hitting people,” said Kavaljian, who has rushed for 210 yards on 37 carries and also starts at linebacker for the Rebels. “Nowadays you don’t see many fullbacks because everything’s about speed. But I’m all about helping the team, and when I can hit a guy so that Nick can run for a touchdown, that’s a great feeling.”
As college coaches descended upon Fairfax to scout Scott (now a Penn State commit), some noticed Kavaljian and the role he played in Scott rushing for 982 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 80 carries. But as Kavaljian chatted with them and other coaches at smaller schools like Randolph-Macon and William and Mary, most envisioned him as a middle linebacker because of his height.
“We aren’t promoting Max as a running back, fullback or linebacker. We’re promoting him as an athlete because you never know what a college wants or needs, and he can do it all,” said Fairfax Coach Kevin Simonds, who estimates Kavaljian serves as a blocker 90 percent of the time within the Rebels’ offense. “If you don’t have someone that can get in there and block, I’m not going to just throw a kid in there just to do it. Fortunately, we have Max.”