Walk-on Breit grateful for new role at fullback
Chris Breit hadn't played much offense at all when USF coaches asked the walk-on linebacker to shift to fullback this spring, but the move has worked out well, with the Plant graduate competing with true freshman Tye Turner to be USF's starting fullback.
"It's come natural for the most part. Football's football," said Breit, who had three tackles in last year's opener against I-AA Stony Brook. "I didn't learn much this spring, but fall, I've learned a bunch. I've come around. Camp helped out a lot."
Breit (rhymes with "fight") was a key leader on Plant's 2006 state championship team, but before his senior year, he was sidelined with a stress fracture in his back, missing most of the season. He was Plant's top tackler in 2006, finishing with 26 tackles for loss, but after the injury was left to choose an offer from USF to walk on. He didn't play his first two seasons, but made a splash last year as a redshirt sophomore.
It spoke well of Breit's progress that USF was comfortable shifting junior Armando Sanchez, who like Breit switched to fullback this spring, back to linebacker after he broke his hand in the first week of practice.
"Sanchez was a good fullback. He was definitely a lot of help at fullback," Breit said. "If I ever had a question, Sanchez would know everything. That's how I got where I am today mentally."
Breit will again be active on special teams -- last year he was on the kickoff team, and right now, he's working on the kick return and field goal units. He is on pace to graduate next fall with a degree in communications.
"In high school, when I broke my back, I never thought I'd be able to play at the college level," he said. "Coming back, it's taught me a love of the game, to take every day and not take it for granted. When opportunities come, make the most of them."
USF has a long line of walk-ons who have stepped into key roles -- senior center Chaz Hine is a former walk-on, as were tackle Jake Sims and cornerback Mistral Raymond from last year's team. Breit said he's aware of the success USF has had in the past with walk-ons, but has his own motivations to play well and contribute to the Bulls.
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said he's been pleased by how well Breit has handled the transition, which has helped the Bulls handle the loss of junior Jeff Hawkins to a season-ending knee injury this summer.
"Chris has a really good football IQ," Fitch said. "When we moved him over in the spring, when we said 'Go do this. Block this end. Run this route. Play this way,' he figured it out quickly. Now he's bought into it full speed and understands this is a great role on this team. He's learning it's a very physical position. He's got every nick and bruise known to man, but he's done a nice job. I think he'll contribute to us this fall."