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Running back

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High school running back
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High school running back

A running back, halfback or tailback is the position of a player on an American football team who lines up in the offensive backfield. Depending on the offensive formation, the halfback may be joined in the backfield by other backs, most commonly a fullback.

The halfback is responsible for carrying the ball on the majority of running plays and is used frequently as a receiver on short passing plays. Occasionally, running backs act as additional wide receivers. When not serving either of these functions, the primary responsibility of a halfback is to block, either to protect the quarterback or another player carrying the football.

A fullback carries the ball only infrequently. On most running plays, the fullback leads the halfback, attempting to block potential tacklers. Fullbacks are sometimes used in passing plays, although they typically protect the quarterback. Fullbacks are also technically running backs, but today the term is usually used in referring to the halfback or tailback. Though fullbacks are rarely used as ball carriers in modern football, there was once a time when they ran the ball as frequently as running backs.

The halfback position is one of the more glamorous positions on the field. A good running back is commonly viewed as a requirement for a team's success. Due to the infrequency with which a fullback carries the ball, the fullback position is less glamorous, if possibly of equal importance. Whereas in previous years the fullback lined up on the field for almost every offensive play, teams often opt to replace the fullback with an additional wide receiver or a tight end in modern football.

There is a great diversity in the types of football players that play the running back position. On one extreme are smaller and agile players. One such example is Warrick Dunn, who stands at only 5'8 and weighs 185 lbs, a relatively small size for a football player. These types of running backs are often referred to as "speed backs" because they rely on speed and agility to evade defenders and gain yards. At the other extreme are bigger, stronger running backs such as Jerome Bettis, who weighs almost 260 lbs. These kinds of running backs are referred to as "power backs" because they rely on their strength and size to "truck through" defenders.


Contents

Running backs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Notable current running backs

Retired running backs (not yet eligible for Hall of Fame)


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