Aug. 16, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
Fullback Logan Winkles doesn’t mince words when it comes to his favorite part of playing football, contact.
The redshirt sophomore’s biggest joys of the game are stepping up and taking on a blitzing linebacker, or clearing a hole for the Pack’s running backs to pick up yardage.
Winkles redshirted his first season in 2010, but suffered a knee injury during the Pack’s bowl preparations that year, and spent the first part of last season rehabbing. He finally got back on the field in the Pack’s fifth game, and played in the final nine of the season on special teams and 24 snaps at fullback.
“With an ACL injury, it’s definitely a mental hump that you have to get over,” said Winkles. “About halfway though the season when I was cleared to come back, I just had to get my mind right, and feel it out on the field.
“Towards the end of the season, I finally got over that mental hump and was able to just go out and not worry about it. Right now, I’m out here everyday and I don’t even think about it.”
Winkles will be part of a Wolfpack offense that has a lot of weapons at its disposal. The Pack returns an experienced offensive line, and lots of firepower at running back.
Among the Pack’s offensive linemen, the group boasts 112 career starts and the five projected starters have played 7,670 career snaps entering the season.
Last season’s top two rushers (senior James Washington with 897 yards and redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy, with 382 yards) both return, as well as 2010 leading rusher, redshirt sophomore Mustafa Greene (597 yards), who missed last season with a foot injury.
“We are trying to be more physical, running the ball inside more this season,” said Winkles. “Our duties are mainly blocking or sometimes going out for a pass. Whatever the coaches call and whatever position they put me into, I am more than happy to step out on the field and contribute.”
Winkles, without hesitation, admits his favorite part of the game is taking on a defensive player to free up the running backs.
“There is no better joy than when you go straight up the middle and knock the p*** out of the linebacker,” Winkles said with a huge smile. “Then you see the running back zooming by downfield, that’s the job of the fullback.”
Winkles was a tight end in high school, so he has the ability to leak out of the backfield and be a target for the Wolfpack’s offense.
“My favorite route to run is a Flat,” said Winkles. “You step outside, go about 5 yards out, and head straight to the sideline.
“Depending on where the coverage is for the defense, that is the most likely route for a fullback to catch the ball and get the chance to make something happen downfield.”
Winkles knows his job is to be a lead blocker and occasionally catch a pass out of the back field, but a fullback can always dream of his number being called to carry the football.
In fact, a fullback has never logged a carry in Coach O’Brien’s 15 years as a head coach, so you can forgive Winkles if he never really thought about what that possibility would be like.
“I really couldn’t tell you what that would feel like,” said Winkles. “I would absolutely love it though. I guarantee I would get five yards out of it!”
Just two weeks from the opening of the season, Winkles is already thinking about the Pack’s trip down to Atlanta to play in the Georgia Dome against Tennessee.
Winkles grew up in Thomaston, Ga., about two hours from Atlanta. At Upson Lee High School, he was named first-team all-state as both a junior and senior.
He was redshirting his freshman season and did not travel with the Pack for its 45-28 win at Georgia Tech in 2010, so the Pack’s season opener will be the first time Winkles gets to play in his home state in a Wolfpack uniform.
“I’m thinking of it as a home game for me,” said Winkles. “Everybody is willing to make the trip up and see me play, I’m definitely excited for that. For a chance for me to play in Georgia as a college player, that’s an unreal experience.”