Based on early indications, look for more action from San José State University fullbacks during the 2014 season. Listed as running backs on the depth chart, sophomores Shane Smith and Chris Dadson are among a handful of players to participate in both sessions of the team's split workouts the first three days of preseason practice leading up to the August 28 season opener against North Dakota.
Smith, who moved from linebacker to running back last year, became the team's number-one fullback. He caught five passes and ran the ball four times, but was mainly used in blocking situations when he was in a game. Dadson was number-two at the position, but did not see any game action in 2013.
"This was my second (day) in both practices," said Smith, a Los Gatos (Calif.) High grad in his third season in the program. "It was a little tough, but we got some extra work. You push through the toughness and get the extra work in practice."
"This was my third day (doing it). The first day, it might have felt like a demotion going to the second practice, but at the end of the day Coach (Andrew) Rolin told us it was extra work. We ran the same plays in the second practice as the first practice. So, it gave us a chance to master those plays," said Dadson, who came to the Spartans from Benicia High.
"It's tough and taxing on the body, but when you love football, you just do it."
Running backs coach Andrew Rolin praised the two sophomores for their work the first three days.
"Both guys are veteran guys who can help us out this year. Because of our numbers at running backs and tight ends, they had to step up and they did a great job for us. We had (shoulder) pads on today for the first time and they were competing. That's what we expect of them every day."
Dadson estimates a few of the wide receivers and most of the tight ends joined him in three consecutive days of participating in both sessions of the split practices.
The 240-pound Dadson thinks his backfield position on the team is in for more responsibilities this season.
"It's changing. Both of us showed we can master the concepts, run the ball, catch the ball and block. Definitely, we had more reps than we last (spring) camp. Today, we had a ton of reps. It's looking bright doing a lot of different things," he said.
Smith believes the coaching staff gave the Spartans plenty of challenges so far.
"The first three days were a lot tougher than the whole team expected. We're kind of grinding through this early stage. After you get through this little hump of being tired, you'll get used to it and push through it the rest of camp," said Smith, who believed the team's summer conditioning program properly prepared he and his teammates.
"I could see Shane and Chris in different roles than what we saw them in last year. We expect both of them to see some time. If either Shane or Chris is among our best 11 players, they are definitely going to play a big role in our offense," the Spartans' running backs coach said the August 3 practice.
The team's split practice philosophy ended Sunday. Now, all players will practice as one team beginning with the August 4 practice that starts at 4:15 p.m., but look for Smith and Dadson to be ready for any situation and be ready to contribute offensively.
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