Sophomore F-back Anthony Barr took some reps at running back Thursday during UCLA's live mini-scrimmage, re-opening the question of whether he will play there for the Bruins.
Barr carried three times for eight yards in his limited reps, which wasn't bad considering he hasn't worked with the running backs at all during training camp and got only limited time with them during the spring.
"It was kind of a surprise," Barr said. "They told me about two minutes before the scrimmage. They said we’re going to give you some reps at running back."
Barr came to UCLA as a highly-regarded running back out of Loyola High, but his 6-foot-4, 237-pound frame didn't seem to translate well to the position at the Division I level. Still, Barr has always had it in the back of his mind even as he has grown used to the F-back position, which is a hybrid between a running back a receiver and a tight end.
"I feel like I’ve developed so much as an F-back that I don’t really see running back as my primary position," he said. "But it’s nothing that I’m opposed to."
Coach Rick Neuheisel said he asks all players what they think their best position is and Barr has told him running back, so he figured he would give him a shot. He expects to give Barr a few carries during the scrimmage Saturday night.
"We want to explore all options," Neuheisel said. "I want to give him some snaps, see what we got."
Barr's size isn't an issue as far as Neuheisel is concerned.
"He has great vision," Neuheisel said. "But he has to keep his pads low. Marcus Allen was that kind of back and ended up finding a way to make it work. I think there’s a place for great players and we want to know what we have in that running back that he was in high school."
He is doing a nice job at his current position, however, working his way into the starting lineup by the end of last season and beginning this season at the top of the F-back depth chart, so it will be difficult for Neuheisel to take him out of that role.
"I think is really good at what we’re asking him to do right now," Neuheisel said. "He’s tremendously valuable. He is working hard at his receiving skills. He does a lot of things for us."
Of course there is no F-back position in an NFL offense, so if Barr intends to play in the NFL someday, he'll need a position that fits a pro-style offense.
"That’s kind of what you’re shooting for," he said. "But the the more you can do, the higher your stock, so the more I can do I feel like the better it will be for the future."