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An H-Back is an offensive position in American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

, and is also known as power back. The position is a hybrid of a fullback
Fullback (American football)
A fullback is a position in the offensive backfield in American and Canadian football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback...

 and a tight end
Tight end
The tight end is a position in American football on the offense. The tight end is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be...

. The position was made notable in the NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 by the Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team and members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team plays at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, while its headquarters and training facility are at Redskin Park in Ashburn,...

 under head coach Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs
Joe Jackson Gibbs is a former American football coach, NASCAR Championship team owner, and two time NHRA Pro Stock team owner. He was the 20th and 26th head coach in the history of the Washington Redskins...

 who ran a two tight end system. The position was named F-Back when used later in Norv Turner
Norv Turner
Norval Eugene Turner is the head coach for the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. He also has served as head coach of the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders, and as offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49ers...

's offensive system.

In the Redskins offensive system, the H-back is asked to block, pass protect, and run receiving routes from multiple sets. This compares to the standard tight end which was used primarily as an extra blocker on Washington offensive line. The H-back can line up in the backfield, on the line, or is put into motion. Because of the complexity of the position, a thorough knowledge of the offense is desirable in an H-back. The position, indeed the entire two Tight End offense, was created by Gibbs as a direct response to Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Julius Taylor , nicknamed "L.T.", is a Hall of Fame former American football player. Taylor played his entire professional career as a linebacker for the New York Giants in the National Football League...

, the New York Giants
New York Giants
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, representing the New York City metropolitan area. The Giants are currently members of the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

' dominant linebacker
Linebacker
A linebacker is a position in American football that was invented by football coach Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen...

. As Gibbs stated, "[w]e had to try in some way have a special game plan just for Lawrence Taylor. Now you didn't do that very often in this league but I think he's one person that we learned the lesson the hard way. We lost ball games."

Offensive formations that used the H-back are not commonly used in professional football today. The most recent examples of a professional football team employing the H-back are the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 from 2001 to 2004 under former head coach Butch Davis
Butch Davis
Paul Hilton "Butch" Davis, Jr. is an American football coach and former player in the United States. He was the head coach at the University of Miami from 1995 to 2000, the Cleveland Browns of the NFL from 2001 to 2004, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2007 to 2011.-Early...

, and the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 2010 under offensive coordinator Mike Martz
Mike Martz
Michael Martz is a former NFL head coach and currently the offensive coordinator for the National Football League's Chicago Bears....

, where Brandon Manumaleuna
Brandon Manumaleuna
-St. Louis Rams:Manumaleuna was selected in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He signed with the team on June 21, 2001. He agreed to a three-year $1.15 million contract including a $255,000 signing bonus. In 2001, Manumaleuna only had one reception on the season...

 is featured in the role. Chris Cooley has also flourished in his role as an H-back in the current offense run by the Washington Redskins. Some NFL commentators, such as Mel Kiper, Jr.
Mel Kiper, Jr.
Mel Kiper Jr. in Baltimore, Maryland is an American football analyst for the ESPN television channel. He has served as an analyst for ESPN's annual NFL draft coverage since 1984, providing in-depth information on the nation's potential draft picks.-Career:With the emergence of ESPN2 and ESPN.com,...

, contend that if Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow
Timothy Richard "Tim" Tebow is an American football player who is currently the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League . He was drafted by the Broncos as the 25th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft...

 is to be a successful NFL player, he will have to play the H-Back position. Teams at high school and collegiate levels sometimes utilize H-back formations, but usually only if they have exceptional talent and depth at the tight end and fullback positions. For example, Brigham Young University is traditionally strong at the tight end position, and the Cougars frequently use H-back formations to put their most talented players on the field at one time. During the 1996 season, BYU used H-back formations almost every down to allow ample playing time for both Chad Lewis
Chad Lewis
Chad Wayne Lewis is a former American football tight end in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.-Early life:...

 and Itula Mili
Itula Mili
Itula Mili National Football League tight end free agent of Samoan origin; Mili played college football for Brigham Young University. He played with the Seattle Seahawks for 10 seasons before being released.-High School:...

. Even more recently, the Wisconsin Badgers have used the H-back position to great effect with Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels is an American football tight end and emergency backup quarterback for the Houston Texans of the National Football League...

, Travis Beckum
Travis Beckum
Travis Beckum is an American football tight end for the New York Giants of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Giants in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at Wisconsin.-Early years:Travis Beckum played football for Oak Creek High School. He...

, Garrett Graham
Garrett Graham
Graham was selected in the 4th round with the 118th overall pick by the Houston Texans.-External links:*...

, and Lance Kendricks
Lance Kendricks
Lance Kendricks is an American football tight end with the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. Prior to the 2011 NFL Draft, Kendricks was considered one of the top tight end prospects....

, all of whom have played in the NFL. The 2011 Houston Texans play two of these former Wisconsin Badger H-Backs, Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels is an American football tight end and emergency backup quarterback for the Houston Texans of the National Football League...

 and Garrett Graham
Garrett Graham
Graham was selected in the 4th round with the 118th overall pick by the Houston Texans.-External links:*...

, as tight ends and converted their former tight end James Casey
James Casey
James Byron Casey is an American football tight end for the Houston Texans of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Texans in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at Rice.-Baseball career:Casey was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the seventh round of...

(Rice University) to an H-Back. Additionally, the Oregon Ducks have been experimenting with dual H-back sets as recently as the 2011 BCS Championship game.

External links