Wellman Searching For An NFL Home For His Fullback Skills
Former Mountaineer Rushel Shell paid Elijah Wellman about the biggest complement a running back can give to his fullback.
When asked to name his favorite play, Shell didn’t hesitate in answering, “Anything where Eli is my lead blocker.”
Now Wellman will try to elicit similar complements from Washington Redskin running back Samaje Perine, as Elijah takes his hard-nosed abilities to the NFL.
The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Wellman spent the past four seasons as West Virginia’s starting fullback, playing in 51 games along the way.
The Huntington, W.Va., native was not selected in the recent NFL Draft, but quickly was offered a free agent contract by Washington.
“I had a couple other opportunities,” explained Wellman. “But my agent and I had made a list of what we thought would be my best fits, and the Redskins were in my top five. I feel like this is one of my better opportunities to make a roster. That’s what I’m going to work towards.”
Wellman’s fullback skills aren’t widely utilized in the NFL anymore. Most pro squads employ multiple tight ends, but a lot don’t even have a prototypical fullback on the roster.
“There are only 15 or 20 NFL teams that seriously use a fullback,” noted Wellman. “So, that makes it tougher for me.”
Washington is one of those that hasn’t carried a fullback in the recent past but is exploring that possibility in the future. Wellman is the only true fullback currently with the Redskins.
“They don’t have a fullback on the roster,” he said. “They’ve been using a big tight end in that role, so it will be different for them as well. They’ll be looking at me and seeing if I can provide what they need to bring a true fullback package in there.
“They want a guy who can catch the fullback and also run block. They want someone who is dynamic in what he does.”
Wellman may be at his best when he’s blocking, but he can do than just act as a battering ram. He had 35 rushing attempts for 137 yards in his college career, and he also caught 16 passes for another 71 yards. He was a special teams’ stalwart for the Mountaineers as well. Though his primary function will continue to be as a blocker, he’ll have to utilize all his skills to make Washington’s roster.
“It’s an opportunity, and I’m going to try to take advantage of it,” he stated.
“You’re super immature when you get a college offer. Then you get to play at West Virginia, which was a dream come true. Playing four year for the Mountaineers was something special. I didn’t really think about the NFL during that time, because I was too busy working my butt in the weightroom and in practices and in meetings. The years just fly by.
“Then here it is. It’s different. I have to prove myself physically and mentally.”
Wellman’s life may be moving on, but he will keep an eye on his old mates. He is one of just four offensive starters who has departed from WVU’s 2017 squad. There’s a lot of firepower returning to West Virginia, and the club’s now former fullback believes the unit has a chance to be very, very good.
“They’re going to be dangerous,” said Wellman of WVU’s 2018 offensive potential. “They can average 40 (points) a game. The weapons they have on that offense are crazy. That’s the most weapons we’ve had in quite a while. There’s a Heisman-hopeful at quarterback, and those wideouts are special, too. The offense line is coming back. Trevon Wesco can fill the role at either fullback or tight end. He’s a big, powerful guy. The running backs should be outstanding. It’s crazy how good that offense could be.”
Wellman will spend this fall watching his former college team. He just hopes he’s watching it from Washington.