BALTIMORE — In this day and age, the fullback position has become less and less popular. Fortunately for Baltimore Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk, new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak puts more of an emphasis on running the ball. Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme allows Juszczyk to blow up would be tacklers as he clears a path for Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro. Juszczyk also gets the opportunity to catch the ball in this offense.
Juszczyk was selected by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He saw action in all 16 games during his rookie year primarily on special teams. At 6’ 1” and 248 pounds, Juszczyk has the prototypical size for a bruising NFL fullback. His ability to receive is an added bonus. Juszczyk was an All-American tight end at Harvard University. While in college, he was given the name “The Juice Mane.” He tied a school record with eight touchdowns during his senior season. Juszczyk also had 52 receptions and 706 yards as a senior.
Not many football players come from Harvard University. Former Ravens center Matt Birk also came from Harvard. Juszczyk has been the subject of friendly “smart guy” jokes in the locker room because he came from an Ivy League School.
Getting accepted into Harvard is not an easy task but Juszczyk was a National Honor Society Member at Cloverleaf prep school in Lodi, Ohio. He also received Ohio Math League recognition while in high school. Education has always been important to him. For that reason, he went back to Harvard after his rookie season to take the last four classes that he needed to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in economics.
Juszczyk has always been an athlete. He played tight end, wide receiver, quarterback and running back in high school. He even led the team in rushing and receiving during his senior year. Juszczyk also played point guard in high school. He participated in the 2011 Harvard Football Dunk Contest and was named the champion. He had a big smile on his face as he described the winning dunk during training camp.
“It was the year that Clippers forward Blake Griffin jumped over a car,” Juszczyk said. “I had my teammate push out a Little Tikes car and then I threw the ball off the glass, caught it and dunked it.”
Kubiak feels that Juszczyk is a great fit for his offense. Back in training camp, he even predicted that the fullback would have 40 – 50 receptions.
“He reminds me a lot of a kid I had a couple of years ago, James Casey.”
Kubiak said. “He played really well for me. He’s athletic and can make some plays downfield. I like fullbacks that can run because there’s such a separation between them and the tailbacks. ‘Juice’ has responded well.”
Juszczyk only has 18 receptions with three more games left in the season, but he has been a safety valve as a receiving option out of the backfield. The primary contribution that Juszczyk has made is in the running game. He along with the offensive line [have] paved the way for a suddenly potent Ravens rushing attack. It has not gone unnoticed by head coach John Harbaugh.
“Kyle has done a really good job.” Harbaugh said. “He’s hammering it up in there very well, and he has made a lot of key blocks for us inside. He has become I’d say one of the top blockers in that position in the league right now in just his second year.”
There has been a lot of improvement as a blocker from his rookie year.
“It was all new to Juszczyk last year,” Harbaugh said. “He learned from Vonta Leach. He had a chance to watch Vonta, who is one of the best ever, so it was good for him.” Juszczyk says that it is “night and day” from last year. He attributes that to the work that he has done with running backs coach Thomas Hammock on “proper body positioning” and other blocking techniques.
Like many other Ravens players, Juszczyk has been involved in the community. He participated in “A Purple Evening,” the team’s annual women’s event at M&T Bank Stadium along with numerous NFL Play60 events.