‘It’s a whole different mentality:’ LSU freshman David Ducre transitioning from runner to blocker _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Offensive tackle Jevonte Domond, (67), left, shouts as he congratulates running back David Ducre (41), after Ducre and offensive linemen all bulled into the end zone for a late touchdown during the spring game.

LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson explained the dichotomy facing true freshman David Ducre.

“As a tailback you’re avoiding people to try to score,” Wilson said. “Now (as a fullback) you’re being told to find them (defenders) and run into them. It’s a whole different mentality with a different psyche, and he’s learning. He’ll be fine.”

Throughout his career, Ducre was the focal point in helping a fledgling new program at Lakeshore gain instant credibility, becoming one of the state’s top running backs and leading the Titans to postseason play along the way.

Ducre helped college recruiters find Lakeshore on the map in Mandeville. The 247 Sports four-star recruit became the program’s first signature recruit, signing with LSU, where he enrolled for the spring semester.

Eight months later, Ducre has transitioned from the instinctive, elusive running back who amassed 1,586 yards and 21 touchdowns his senior season to LSU’s hybrid running back/fullback role with more of an emphasis on the latter heading into his first season with the Tigers.

“Everyone knows the fullback is a very vital part as well as running back,” Ducre said during last week’s media day. “You want a fullback that can do multiple things to help out the offense more. If you have a tailback playing fullback, it can open up a lot of fullback flat (passing) routes, wheel routes, as well as handing the ball off to the fullback.”

Ducre said he believes he’s equipped himself physically (he’s now up 8 pounds to 239) for the demands of the position — one that’s been prevalent in past years with Houston Texans rookie Kenny Hilliard and current sophomore Darrell Williams. Sophomore John David Moore sits atop the LSU’s fullback depth chart, while Ducre, fellow true freshman Bry’Kiethon Mouton and redshirt freshman Tony Upchurch are all in pursuit.

“We’ll play him at fullback first. And if we need to, we’ll get him at tailback,” Wilson said. “He’s doing extremely well. Where to go is easy for him. He’s off the chart intellectually. But it’s how to do it? Most people think if you’re a big tailback you can automatically become a fullback.”

Ducre said he’s discovered the nuances of the position almost on a daily basis since the start of preseason camp. One move that put him ahead of the learning curve was his early arrival in January, an opportunity to adapt to several aspects of the college game.

More than two months after his arrival, Ducre went through his first spring training. As a member of the losing Purple team in the Spring Game, he carried seven times for 11 yards and scored his team’s lone touchdown.

“It’s been a big benefit coming in early,” he said. “I adjusted to the speed of the game a lot quicker. I learned the playbook and started understanding defenses. I had a long period where I could think and reflect on everything, so I could learn mentally and physically to prepare myself for the season.”

Ducre, rated the nation’s No. 1 fullback by 247 Sports, was also cognizant that a switch to fullback would not only be in his best interest, but also for the Tigers with a developing four-back rotation of Leonard Fournette, Williams and incoming freshmen Derrius Guice and Nicholas Brossette.

After proving he could run and catch in high school, Ducre’s out to show he can handle the biggest detail in the fullback’s job description: block.

“I wasn’t asked to block much in high school,” he said. “I’m learning how to block and hone my skills. There are different things such as aiming points, where to place my helmet. I want to be the best player that I can be, work my way into a starting role and just be dominant.”