Kansas State fullback Glenn Gronkowski says his famous older brother was jealous after he threw a touchdown pass last week.
Even though Rob Gronkowski is an elite NFL tight end playing for the New England Patriots with countless highlight scores to his name, he has never thrown for a touchdown. Glenn is the only sibling in the athletic family to accomplish that feat.
The K-State junior pulled it off against Iowa State on a trick play in which he took a toss in the backfield, faked a run toward the line of scrimmage and flipped the ball to fellow fullback Winston Dimel for the easiest score of the day.
“He said he had to tell his coaches to let him try that play now, or at least give him the opportunity to throw a pass,” Glenn said. “So we’ll see if they let him do it. Hopefully not.”
Glenn was proud of the play for more than the bragging rights. It made him feel more involved in K-State’s offense. While most teams, particularly in the Big 12, are abandoning fullbacks in favor of extra receivers, the Wildcats are inventing new ways to utilize the position.
Here’s an example: Gronkowski has played a role in six touchdowns during his college career, yet he hasn’t crossed the goal line on a running play. Five of his touchdowns have come as a receiver, often on pop-pass plays. He threw for the other one.
Dimel, a redshirt freshman, has rushed for three scores and caught a touchdown pass.
They have both started all 10 of K-State’s games. No matter the situation, the Wildcats begin every game on offense in a two-fullback formation.
“I consider myself more of a hybrid player than just a fullback,” Gronkowski said. “I do a little bit of everything. We have tried a bunch of different things in practice the last couple years, and we could probably do more. I have no problem lining up running back, tight end or fullback. We have tried it all.”
K-State coach Bill Snyder likes fullbacks that fit that mold. He asks his coaches to recruit the most versatile players for that position.
“That is significant for us, provided the main ingredients are in place,” Snyder said. “You have to be a physical player. You have to have some size about you. And you have to be able to run, as well. Put all that together and the other traits we want. You like to have a guy who is athletic and has good hands. We are fortunate to have some good guys like that.”
Gronkowski was an All-Big 12 pick last season, so it was surprising to see Dimel move up the depth chart and play alongside him.
But Glenn says he wouldn’t have it any other way. He is happy he has someone to split reps with.
And to throw touchdown passes to.
“Me and Winston are best friends off the field,” Glenn said. “To have someone else there is awesome. It definitely takes a relief off my body. This is the best I have ever felt this late in the season. To be able to have someone else there is awesome. We are both always fresh and ready to help the team in every way we can.”
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett
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