This is the fifth part in my series analyzing the Cowboys roster.
Don Perkins was the first great offensive player for the Dallas Cowboys. He played fullback and he was the team's primary runner. The Cowboys didn't have anyone else that could run the ball as well as him. Perkins was the Cowboys all time leading rusher until Tony Dorsett came along. Walt Garrison took over at fullback following Perkins' retirement in 1968. Garrison was a hard-nosed Cowboy in the truest sense of the word. He was a flamboyant character as much as he was a good football player. Garrison was on the amateur rodeo circuit during the offseasons, and a knee injury he sustained while steer wrestling ended his football career in 1974. Then Robert Newhouse took over at fullback on a fulltime basis for the Cowboys. He was known as "fire hydrant" and '"human bowling ball" and Newhouse had some of the biggest thighs in the NFL. What some Cowboys fans may not realize is that Newhouse was a very good runner, especially early in his career. The first season he took over for Garrison (1975), Newhouse rushed for 930 yards. Newhouse also provided one of the most memorable plays in Dallas Cowboys history, his touchdown pass to Golden Richards in Super Bowl XII. Tom Landry implemented the play during the two weeks before the game. Charlie Waters says that Newhouse didn't complete the pass once during practice. Most of the players thought it was a joke, something to fill time at the end of practices. It wasn't. Newhouse, rolling to his left, reversed his body and fired a great pass that hit Richards in stride despite very good coverage. The next great Cowboys fullback was Daryl "Moose" Johnston. Moose was a punishing lead blocker, like never seen before or since at that position for the Cowboys. He was very instrumental in Emmitt Smith's career. A great moment was when Emmitt broke the all time rushing record, and Moose, retired at the time because of a neck injury, was on the sidelines and offered his congratulations. "I'm glad I could be here today. I wouldn't have missed it... I enjoyed everything I did for you." Emmitt had managed to hold things together pretty well until that point, but he broke down on the sidelines with Moose. The Cowboys have had an historic lineage at the fullback position, but unfortunately I don't see a worthy successor currently on the roster. (Newhouse image courtesy of The Dallas Morning News.)
The Cowboys drafted Deon Anderson out of Connecticut in the 6th round this year, hoping that he can take over the position. Anderson was known in college as one of the best special teams coverage players in the nation. He was also a punishing lead blocker, something that obviously made him attractive to the Cowboys. He has natural receiving ability and could serve as a good dump off target, but he doesn't have the ability to make defenders miss in space. He's more of a physical plowhorse. His desire and work ethic are unquestioned. After being removed from his college team due to off the field issues and academic problems, Anderson worked his way back in the mix without the benefits of a scholarship. The sacrifices he made to resume his college football career are almost unbelievable. Anderson is the Cowboys best chance of finding a long term answer at fullback, currently on the roster. At the least, he should be a great addition to the special teams units.
Lousaka Polite was undrafted and signed following the 2004 draft out of Pittsburgh. He was released at the end of training camp that season and resigned in November and spent time on the practice squad. Polite saw action in the season finale against the Giants in 2004 at fullback and on special teams. Following that season, Polite was praised as one of the hardest workers in the offseason by Bill Parcells, and he won the fullback job in 2005. Polite played 14 games in 2005 with very limited success. He was a decent player but didn't show the ability to be better than average in any single aspect of the position. The Cowboys tried to move away from the fullback position in 2006, but Polite still saw action in 12 games. While he is a hard worker, and he was better than anything the Cowboys had at the position for a couple of seasons, I don't look for Polite to be on the roster in 2007.
The Cowboys signed Oliver Hoyte as an undrafted free agent following the 2006 draft out of N.C. State. Hoyte was a standout linebacker in college and was considered a prize catch in the undrafted ranks. Many experts had a predicted him as a mid-round draft choice. The Cowboys switched Hoyte over to fullback last season and he played in 12 games. He proved to be a powerful, explosive blocker but sometimes missed assignments. He was no threat as a runner or receiver. I like Hoyte as a football player but I don't believe his future lies at fullback. It appears the Cowboys have moved him back to linebacker fulltime.
It's very unlikely the Cowboys will keep more than one player at this position on the roster. That one player will be Deon Anderson, barring a major surprise in training camp. Anderson has never been utilized much carrying the ball or catching it on his college teams, but he offers some intriguing upside as a blocker and a special teams player. Despite Jason Garrett's wishes to move back to a more conventional offense utilizing the fullback, I look for the Cowboys to use a lot of one back sets and H-backs, like Anthony Fasano in the backfield this season.