UMass moves Wahconah’s Fiske from tight end to fullback
AMHERST -- If Jordan Fiske gets to step on the field at Gillette Stadium on Saturday for the University of Massachusetts, it won’t be at the position he came into school at.
Fiske, the former Wahconah Regional and East Coast Prep player, was originally recruited as a tight end -- the position he played at both schools. But UMass coach Mark Whipple has moved Fiske to the fullback spot in the Minutemen’s pro-style offense.
"I haven’t played reall fullback since my freshman year of high school," Fiske said after a practice last week at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. "It was a little bit of a shift, but I think I’ve adjusted well."
Fiske is a preferred walk-on with the Minutemen, who open their 2014 season on Saturday against Boston College.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Fiske would have been one of the smallest of the seven tight ends on the UMass roster. Of the six remaining players at the position, four of them are at least 6-5 and 250 pounds.
There are no fullbacks listed on the current roster, but Fisk, redshirt freshman Daquan Mack and junior Matt Tuleja fit the physical mold of a big fullback. Mack, however, was recruited to UMass as a tailback.
"It’s a grind, but I love it," said Fiske. "It’s been what I’ve been dreaming about since I was young and I wanted to play D-I football."
Fiske said he has been working with the "2’s and 3’s" at the fullback position, and has also been working on special teams for the Minutemen.
He had been working with UMass tight ends coach Spencer Whipple, the son of the head coach and a former standout quarterback at South Hadley High School.
"At the beginning of the summer, my tight ends coach said ‘We were going to work you in with some fullback,’ " the former Wahconah standout said. "I came in for some meetings. I go to the tight ends room and Coach Whip starts yelling ‘Don’t you reaize you’re with the fullbacks?’
"I got thrown into the fire."
Using the pro-set offense, the tailback in Whipple’s attack will get most of the carries and the fullback could be described as an extra lineman. Fullbacks to get to carry the ball now and then, and sometimes go out for a pass, but Fiske will still be blocking people. How he does that has changed.
"The open-space blocking" is the biggest adjustment to the new position, the fullback said. "At tight end, it’s more face-to-face on the line. At fullback, you have to run and see everything going on around you."
UMass, winners of two games in two seasons at the Division I-FBS level, have a pretty tough way to start the season. The Minutemen will host BC and Colorado of the Pacific 10 Conference at Gillette Stadium, before going on the road to Vanderbilt and Penn State.
"I got to play [at Gillette] once, in my senior year of high school," Fiske said. "This will probably be a little bit of a different situation."
That trip to Gillette was a Division II Super Bowl win over South Hadley, a game where he caught the go-ahead touchdown pass on the last play of the first half.
UMass will play all of its Mid-American Conference games on campus, including a Wednesday night contest on Nov. 12 against Ball State.
"We’re getting there," said Fiske, when asked how his team is doing in preseason. "We still have some ways to go. There’s still stuff we have to clean up."
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