Aug. 21, 2002
BERKELEY - As two-a-day practices begin to draw to a close, competition at the fullback position continues to be a fierce battle.
"We have a few guys that are capable of playing the position well," said running backs coach Ron Gould.
One of those vying for the spot is sophomore Pana Faumuina, a 6-0, 240-pound sophomore. For the past week and a half, Faumuina has received as much opportunity to secure the position as anyone. "I don't know if I am the front-runner, but if coach gives me the nod, I will be ready," he said.
Gould, who was hesitant to name anyone as a "front-runner" did admit that Faumuina is the best athlete at the position.
Faumuina's first goal this season is not starting, but staying healthy and academically eligible. He missed all but two games in 2000 due to surgery on a severely separated shoulder and had to sit out the 2001 season to concentrate on academics. He even missed time this past spring because of a lateral meniscus injury.
Faumuina insists that he is completely recovered from his injuries saying, "I am stronger than ever, in fact I feel that my body is better than it was before the injuries."
With all the setbacks in Faumuina's first two years, he looks at them as "blessings in disguise."
"I was not ready to play on this level as a freshmen, I needed to mentally learn how to be a Pac-10 fullback," he added.
After rushing for more than 1,400 yards in his senior year at Carlsbad High School as a running back, the Oceanside native has struggled to find that straight-ahead fullback mentality, partly because of his success as a cutback runner in high school.
It has taken him some time to get acclimated to the fullback spot, according to Gould. "It is a hard thing to go from tailback to fullback," Gould said. "The fullback has a tough job and does not receive the rewards a tailback does."
Gould does not rule out a possibility of Faumuina seeing some action at the tailback spot this year, especially with the injury to Adimchinobe Echemandu.
"When healthy, he is one of the more explosive guys on the team." Gould said, "I do not want to put any limitations on him, but for right now I want him to concentrate on fullback."
The Bears end camp with a scrimmage on Friday night. Faumuina hopes that Friday will be his opportunity to truly separate from the pack.
Golden Bear Notes ...
Friday's scrimmage will be held in Memorial Stadium, but will be closed to the public ... offensive guards Scott Tercero (shoulder) and Jonathan Giesel (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday after missing several days with injuries ... wide receiver Burl Toler will change his number from 19 to 10 so it won't conflict with safety Bert Watts, who also wears No. 19 ... wide receiver Jonathan Makonnen, who broke a finger the first day of practice, is no longer practicing in a cast.