During the Washington Huskies historically bad 2007 season, they had a 6'2" 240 pound wide receiver catching passes. That year, current Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece started all 13 games for the Huskies at wide receiver, and earned himself the KING-TV Most improved offensive player award at the team's postseason banquet. During his 43 game career with the Huskies, Reece caught 120 passes for 2,866 yards (23.9 ypc) and 20 total touchdowns.
Despite his impressive numbers with the Huskies, Reece did not receive an invitation to the NFL combine. He did, however, graduate with the body of a linebacker and the speed of a wide receiver. At his school's pro day, he ran the 40 in 4.42 seconds, registered a broad jump of 9'6", and showed off a 36 ½ inch vertical leap.
"I never feel any pressure," Reece said when asked about the added significance of his Pro Day workout after being a combine snub. "This is football. This is a sport. This is what I've been doing my whole life. As (UW running back) Louis Rankin and I always say, 'We get fresher under pressure.' It's a corny phrase that has a lot of meaning to it, because we love pressure, we love to be in competition. This is why we do it."
He was the highest rated Husky heading into that draft, rated as a potential 7th round draft pick, but Reece never did get drafted that year. There was much debate over what position Reece would play at the next level; he was seen as too short to play tight end, too stocky to be an efficient receiver, too tall to be an effective halfback.
"This has been going on my whole career," Reece said. "I've learned to get used to it. I've learned to embrace it and basically show people I can do whatever they want me to do. I just love being on the field, so I'll play anything they want me to play."
Reece was scooped up as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins. Shortly after not making the Dolphins squad, he got a call from the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders decided to bring Reece in as an option at fullback. During that time, the Raiders were in the second year of the Lane Kiffin experiment. They had fullback Justin Griffith, who came over from the Atlanta Falcons following offensive line coach Tom Cable and Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp. They also had another rookie they were impressed with named Oren O'Neal and four year pro Luke Lawton.
Reece didn't make the 53 man roster, but he did earn himself a spot on the practice squad that year. In the middle of the season, head coach Lane Kiffin was fired, the Raiders season self imploded, and Marcel Reece just kept plugging away. When the 2009 season came, the Raiders brought back fullback Oren O'Neal, who was put on IR early in the 2008 season, and they also brought in veteran hole puncher Lorenzo Neal. Ultimately, it was 5 year pro Luke Lawton's job due to injuries to O'Neal and Neal. And Marcel Reece was once again delegated to the practice squad.
Now it's Reece's time to go under the Oakland Microscope. This is his make or break year; Reece will not be able to go onto the Raiders practice squad this year, as he has used up his eligibility. During the final two games of the 2009 season, Reece was moved from the practice squad to the 53 man roster for the Raiders due to Luke Lawton's suspension from the league for testing positive for a banned substance.
Recently, when asked about what the Raiders would do for a fullback this year, Head Coach Tom Cable said, "Marcel Reece is there and Luke Lawton is there and then we'll see." Cable also said at his pre-draft news conference last Thursday that there are not really any I-Form fullbacks left in college football. He said it was becoming increasingly hard to evaluate guys for the position in the NFL.
I think Reece is not only a good FB option, but it would give Oakland another dangerous weapon on offense. A dangerous weapon with a high likelihood of being overlooked during opponents defensive scheme meetings. Reece could be a player that could be detrimental to a team who doesn't game-plan for his abilities; much like FB Peyton Hillis of the Cleveland Browns via the Denver Broncos.
Marcel Reece has a lot to prove this year, but he has a couple of things working in his favor. For one, he has clocked two years in the organization. The second thing would be a boatload of raw talent. Finally, there is the still pending suspension of last year's starter Luke Lawton. That's not to say that Reece should start by default, but it is to say when opportunity meets preparation, that is where you find success. Reece has the tools to play this spot and be as an effective FB as the Raiders have had since the days of Zach Crockett. In fact, I will go so far as to say that Reece has the talent to be the best fullback the Raiders have ever had, but Marcel needs to show people that he can do whatever they want him to do. It's time to sink or swim for Reece with the Raiders.