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Ex-Washington State fullback Clay Markoff adds new element to Arizona offense

Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

The prospect of using multiple tight ends, and having them be a productive part of the offense, is by itself enough to get Arizona fans excited. Throw in the possibility of a fullback being utilized and you might be risking some blood pressure spikes.

Arizona’s preseason training camp roster, which is loaded with transfers from other FBS schools, includes one that wasn’t previously reported: Clay Markoff, a redshirt senior fullback from Washington who spent five seasons at Washington State.

The 5-foot-10, 239-pound Markoff appeared in 29 games for the Cougars, mostly on special teams, though he did get some offensive touches. For his career he’s carried the ball 14 times for 40 yards and has one catch for seven yards.

Markoff was a fan favorite at WSU but told the Spokesman-Review that he wanted to “find a program that runs a fullback.”

A fullback hasn’t been a regular part of Arizona’s offense for years. The last to get carries was Tami Tutogi in 2011 when he had 25 rushes and scored four times.

But Markoff, who began his career at WSU as a walk-on before getting a scholarship in 2019, was targeted in the pass game multiple times during goal-line sessions of Arizona’s first preseason practice.

“It’s good to be able to be in multiple personnel groupings,” first-year head coach Jedd Fisch said. “The ability to bring a fullback in now just gives you a third level to it. We had some goal-line reps today with three tight ends, a fullback and a halfback on the field. When you can do all that, that’s more that they have to defend.”

Fisch said when he was the offensive coordinator at UCLA in 2017 the Bruins would use a fullback a lot, resulting in an offense that ranked fourth nationally in passing and 22nd overall in yards per game. That team featured 6-foot, 265-pound Jalen Starks, who had 35 carries and four TDs and ran for 63 yards and a score at Arizona.

“There’s a toughness that a fullback brings,” Fisch said. “There’s an ability that you can run certain plays that you can’t run without a fullback. There’s some opportunities there that, when you have a fullback in the game, they have to bring the base defense back onto the field.”