(With fullback Spencer Larsen scheduled to answer questions from reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium, ESPNBoston.com checks in with his college coach, Mike Stoops, for some background.)
When Mike Stoops was head coach at the University of Arizona, Spencer Larsen was a standout linebacker on his team.
Larsen made big contributions on defense and special teams, and when considering his playing style, Stoops isn't surprised that the 28-year old was able to successfully transition to a fullback in the pros.
“He was very quick. He was quick to the football and quick at the line of scrimmage,” said Stoops, who now serves as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. “Certainly that’s a lot what fullbacks have to do -- get on defensive linemen and linebackers very quickly at the point of attack. He’s a fearless guy that played downhill as a linebacker and just kind of switched roles up between a linebacker and a fullback. They’re similar in a lot of ways.”
Larsen owns experience in all three phases of the game in the NFL, having started as a fullback, linebacker and playing on special teams. He appears settled on the offensive side for now, a switch that required more than just some of the physical gifts that Larsen possesses.
“His football IQ made that transition probably a little simpler,” Stoops said. “Because of him playing [linebacker], he understands angles very well and understands what they’re trying to accomplish from a defensive perspective, I think it makes him probably a much smarter football player.”
Stoops noted Larsen's off-the-charts intangibles, toughness, competitiveness, and stated that Larsen “had a great attitude about everything he did."
That attitude is part of what makes Larsen a great fit in New England according to Stoops, and he should have a shot to earn a starting role in Josh McDaniels' offense, one that he is familiar with from his time in Denver.
Unlike the offense that New England ran throughout most of 2011, McDaniels has traditionally favored the usage of a fullback, and Larsen was a player he had high praise for when coaching him in Denver.