When Marcel Reece came out of the University of Washington, he was a man without a position.
For the Huskies, Reece was a wide receiver. He had good speed – a 4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2008 – and scored eight TDs on 39 catches for 761 yards as a senior.
But Reece, at 6-foot-3 and more than 240 pounds, was considered too big for a wide receiver and too small for a tight end and went undrafted. After signing with the Dolphins as a free agent he eventually hooked up with the Raiders in 2008 and was converted to fullback.
Now, after four seasons in the league, Reece’s time may have come.
With the departure of Michael Bush to free agency, Reece may play a much larger role in coach Dennis Allen’s offense in 2012.
His No. 1 role likely will be as a lead blocker for running back Darren McFadden, but he’s also been labeled a “matchup nightmare” for defenders as a pass-catcher out of the backfield because of his size and speed.
In 2012, it’s possible that Reece could make a larger impact as a blocker, receiver and big, physical ballcarrier.
Though Reece played little his first two seasons in Oakland, he started 10 games in 2010 and six more last season. He’s carried just 47 times – including only 17 in 2011 – but has averaged 26 receptions his past two years and has scored five TDs on those receptions. Once he gets into the open field, he doesn’t run like a fullback. Last season, he had a 47-yard catch; the year before, he had a 73-yard TD play.
In a new offense, Reece – who just signed a new deal with the Raiders – could shine.
Reece says Allen has told him that he needs to improve as a lead blocker for McFadden, and he’s intent on improving in that capacity.
“I’m always trying to get myself better and be the best player I can be and be the best player in the league,” Reece told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I thank him for letting me know that.”
Allen has said he wants time to assess Reece this summer to see how much he will figure into the offensive schemes.
“We’ve got to have a little bit of time to kind of see what we’ve got in him before we start figuring out whether we’re going to give him more carries or whatever,” Allen told Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Reece, who says “I want to be a Raider for life,” calls himself a “hard-working player” who is determined to work his way into more playing time and a bigger role.
Bill Williamson of ESPN.com, who covers the AFC West, wrote recently that he believes Reece can be a difference maker.
Wrote Williamson: “They are going to use this guy. He is not your typical fullback. He can do so many things. I see him being a big part of this offense. He can help as a runner and as a receiver. Also, he can play tight end in some situations. Reece is an under-the-radar player who makes his team better.”