Texans’ Prosch part of shrinking fraternity

Published 9:58 pm Saturday, September 12, 2015

San Antonio Express-News

(AP) — Inside darkened film rooms at the Texans’ offices, imposing fullback Jay Prosch frequently studies old tape of retired former Texans Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach.

Prosch loves watching the train wrecks Leach was involved in, using his bulky frame like a human battering ram to bulldoze through linebackers and clear pathways for star running back Arian Foster.

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“It’s cool to kind of put myself in Vonta’s shoes, and relate that to the stuff that we’re doing now and think about how he would have treated those situations,” he said.

“It’s fun to watch his hard-nosed style.”

An appreciation for Leach’s punishing approach to the game and connecting the Texans’ running game history are invaluable tools for Prosch. Especially considering how he’s part of a shrinking NFL fraternity at the fullback position.

Just 20 of 32 NFL franchises, including the Texans, employ at least one fullback on their active roster entering the first week of the regular season. There are only 26 fullbacks on 53-man rosters overall in the NFL as of Friday’s transactions.

And Prosch is the lone fullback on an AFC South roster.

While there aren’t many fullbacks around the NFL for Prosch to compare notes with, he views it as being part of a small, rugged fraternity of unheralded athletes who have heart, reckless abandon and, perhaps, a healthy dose of craziness to sacrifice their bodies the way they do for the team.

“Obviously, it’s not dead because you still see a good bunch of teams carrying a fullback,” Prosch said. “I kind of enjoy not being in the spotlight.”

Why is the fullback position no longer a growth job market?

“You have to factor in what’s going on in college, and that makes it kind of hard to do it in the NFL,” said Leach, 33, who played in the NFL for a decade and was named to three Pro Bowls. “In the NFL, you don’t have time for a fullback to learn how to play it on the fly. Either you’ve got it or you don’t.