Vitale grew up as a “die-hard” Bears fan in Wheaton, where he went to football factory Wheaton-Warrenville South.
MOBILE, Ala. — At Northwestern, he played “superback”, a position unique to the Wildcats’ offense. Now, Dan Vitale is making the shift to “fullback”, a position that has gone out of style, as he gets set for the NFL Draft.
“The biggest thing that I need to show this week is that I can play hand-down fullback and run downhill blocking as well,” he said. “I think a lot of teams already know that I can run routes, catch the ball and block in space, but they need to see that downhill blocking that I haven’t shown before just because it’s not something that was a staple in our offense at Northwestern. I need to show that I can learn it quickly and perform out on the field.”
A four-year contributor to Northwestern’s offense, Vitale finished his career with 135 catches for 1,427 years and 11 receiving touchdowns. It’s an above-average receiving pedigree for a fullback, but he has some rushing in his football background.
Vitale grew up as a “die-hard” Bears fan in Wheaton, where he went to football factory Wheaton-Warrenville South. His brother Tommy is a linebacker at Northwestern. Playing fullback allows Vitale to return to the backfield, where he had 1,340 rushing yards in 2011 as a senior in high school.
“Football in Wheaton is a huge thing, a huge part of the town, so I developed that love for football growing up in the city of Wheaton,” Vitale said, later referencing Wheaton’s most famous football product, Red Grange.
“That’s something that I think is incredibly important, especially going on to the NFL. It’s a profession. You’re doing it for the love of the game. I still have that love of football. It’s a huge part of my life,” he said.
Vitale is working with the South team and Jaguars coaches this week alongside another fullback with a high-profile name — Glenn Gronkowski, the next ‘Gronk’, who played fullback at Kansas State.
On the field, Vitale said he’s focused on selling the play-action from the fullback position, something he’s still learning to get acquainted with after spending much of college in the slot.
“A lot of those linebackers are reading me now,” he said, “so being able to do that and get out on those pass plays is going to get me open.”
Vitale has met with a Bears scout, and while his hometown team did not employ a fullback last year, it certainly could have a need for an H-back-type.
Growing up outside Chicago and going to school down the street, Vitale has come to love the city, and he hopes to hear his name called there, along with the label “fullback”.
“Just gotta keep the position alive as long as possible,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe it’ll transition to superback at some point, but I think that H-back, fullback, we’ve got to keep it alive. It’s great to have that versatility and athleticism, so I’d hate to see it go to waste.”
Complete article: By KEVIN FISHBAIN — ChicagoFootball.com – firstname.lastname@example.org – Published: Jan. 27, 2016 — 10:36 a.m. http://www.chicagofootball.com/2016/01/27/northwesterns-dan-vitale-hopes-to-keep-fullback-position-alive/awxe0gd/