Why is an H-Back utility player so important? What can you do with one to make him useful in any spot? Find out how I’ve used H-Backs in my offenses over the past 8 seasons.
#89- our H-Back the 2nd half of the 2016 season
I started using an H-Back in 2009 while I was the freshman head coach and offensive coordinator at Melbourne High School. I had a utility fullback that could line up at tight end, fullback, or even tailback in our more west-coast pro style offense. He was an extremely talented kid that started for three years on varsity for a perennial playoff program.
Skip ahead to being hired as the Cornerstone head coach in 2012. The H-Back position returned to my game plan in 2013 when Sean (@IMFB_Sean) was our offensive coordinator, and we finished 5-5. We had a transfer come in that was an H-Back type player who could lead block, carry the ball for short yardage (4 yards / carry), catch out of the backfield or slot (14 yards / rec), and block inline as a tight end. He was a solid utility player and signed to a D3 to continue in that roll.
H-Back in the slot catching a post
H-Back in 20 personnel 2-back blocking on OZ
H-Back in 20 personnel 2-back running dive
In 2014 I didn’t really have that kid. We would personnel guys but it becomes really obvious what you’re doing if you’re constantly pulling off a WR and putting in a FB or TE type unless you really protect the plays in your offense. In 2015, my last season at CCA, I had a utility player that was even more dynamic than the kid in 2013. This kid was not only a great blocker and receiver (13 yards / catch), but he could also run the ball (13 yards / carry) and he threw a touchdown in back-up QB duty. He was a weapon that made me understand the importance of having if not spending extra time molding an H-Back because he was a huge part of us scoring the most points in school history while finishing 7-4.
Split-Zone Read with H-Back in alley
The double hand-off goes 15 for a TD
Nice kick-out block on Power
3000 miles later I found myself with a true FB but not an H-Back. The FB couldn’t catch the ball or line-up at TE or in the slot. Once he was injured, I had to mold an H-Back. We started simple, just lead blocking zone lead & belly, kicking the DE on power, and running arrow routes as dump offs. Then he started to flash his abilities in the passing game. Against a league opponent he picked up 4 catches for 70 yards and a TD in a half of play (they called the game at halftime) while lead blocking for 5 yards / carry for the QB and RB.
H-Back runs a Stick route
So with our new found H-Back how did we incorporate him into the system?
First, we were able to pull our guards less which helped mask our offense more. Teams were having to key the h-back instead of the guards which could be entirely new to teach, especially in an ‘old school’ league.
H-Back kicks out on Trap
Instead of switching personnel to 10 when we wanted to go 3×1 open or 2×2 we could now leave him in. He still ran some fullback type routes, mostly arrow and stick, but also with his route running and hands could run “6” for us as well.
H-Back runs an arrow route
H-Back runs a nice Stick route