USC fullback Soma Vainuku will fight for a roster spot with the Houston Texans this offseason, but space at fullback may be limited.
Soma Vainuku made a name for himself as a special teams asset for USC football. In the NFL, he’ll have to use that skill to make the Houston Texans’ roster.
Does Vainuku stand a chance at securing a place on the team?
2016 Texans Fullbacks
- Jay Prosch | 3rd year
- Soma Vainuku | UDFA
Third-year fullback Jay Prosch, who played college ball first at Illinois and then Auburn, has been with the Texans since 2014 and poses the main hurdle for Vainuku in making the team.
Head coach Bill O’Brien, who picked up Prosch in the sixth round of his first draft, hasn’t kept two fullbacks on the roster since he joined the Texans in 2014. Even before O’Brien’s arrival, the Houston roster hasn’t featured two fullbacks since 2011.
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That precedent creates two scenarios for Vainuku.
The first is winning the fullback job outright and pushing Prosch out of a job.
Vainuku doesn’t hold much of a physical advantage over Prosch, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 256 pounds. That makes the task difficult, especially considering Vainuku’s strength at USC was not as a fullback.
However, if O’Brien wants some receiving ability from his fullback, Vainuku’s 17 career receptions may give him the slightest advantage. He also possesses greater speed and running ability than Prosch, if that factors in to how the Texans want to use their fullback this year (Prosch has had just six rushing attempts in two years).
The second option is to break precedent.
It was no secret heading into the NFL draft that Vainuku’s pro future would weigh heavily on special teams ability. Teams don’t often hold roster spots for special teamers, but Vainuku’s wrecking ball ability might put him over the top, with or without displacing Prosch.
View from Houston…
Soma Vainuku has all the looks of a pro fullback and of course has the bloodlines being the cousin of Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga. He also has the perfect size at just under 6-foot and 246 pounds.
However, he comes to the Houston Texans, a team that hardly employs the fullback. Head coach Bill O’Brien loves to go single back and use extra receiver which makes the road to the roster rough for Vainuku.
He could be a fan favorite though because he is tenacious and that could influence the coaching staff as he only has to battle incumbent starter Jay Prosch.
The edge for Vainuku will be on special teams as he can offer more than Prosch, especially when considering the three blocked punts during his days at USC.
In the end it may be too big a hill to climb for the former Trojan, but it won’t be impossible.