Quiet Fuller beginning to make noise

BOB WIENEKE
SBT Reporter

There were times, Joe McCourt, the head football coach at Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School, will tell you, that it was hard to know if William Fuller, his star player, was even around. Fuller was that quiet — “the most quiet kid I have ever been around,” McCourt insisted.

“There’s been times — you know he’s there because he’s William Fuller, he’s a great football player — but he doesn’t open his mouth. At all,” McCourt said.

Fuller may not possess the gift of gab, but five games into the season, the Notre Dame wide receiver is showing glimpses of his gift of grab.

The freshman has caught a pass in each of the last two games, the first a 37-yard, over-the-shoulder beauty for his first career reception. The second was an 11-yard catch last Saturday against Oklahoma, one that came after the Irish fell behind 14-0 but before the shell-shock had worn off.

For Fuller, it’s been an evolution in acclimation to college, one that on Saturday resulted in him making his first start.

The adjustment period from high school to college, like it is for most freshmen, is transitioning from always-used superstar to bottom-of-the-depth chart novice. McCourt’s advice to Fuller has been to simply keep working hard in practice, advice Fuller is heeding.

“It’s obvious he is,” McCourt said, “because it looks like a little more every week he’s getting more involved in what’s going on on offense.”

There was a spell during the recruiting cycle in which it was possible that Fuller could end up on defense. A decorated defensive back whom McCourt thought could have played safety or cornerback in college, Fuller is described as a guy who has blanket cover skills as a corner and the proper instincts to excel as a safety.

“His highlight film at receiver was ridiculous,” McCourt said, “but he was so good at D-back too.”

Receiver, however, is where he fits at Notre Dame.

“He tracks it well,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said of the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Fuller. “He’s got strong hands, and obviously he’s got great speed. He’s got to continue to get stronger.”

Asked to compare Fuller to anyone he’s seen, McCourt, through his distinct Philly accent, offered Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson in that they both are able to get off the line of scrimmage in relatively quick fashion.

“After that,” McCourt said of Fuller, “he just does his own thing.”

He just doesn’t do it with a lot of noise. One of five children, Fuller is the only boy in the bunch, and when McCourt would visit Fuller’s home, words from his superstar weren’t being tossed around frivolously.

“He’s just got that quietness about him,” McCourt said. “He’s not cocky at all. He’s very humble. I just think he fits the Notre Dame mold. He just goes about his business and does his thing and lets the chips fall where they may.”

Notre Dame's William Fuller makes a catch during the Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma football game on Saturday, September 28, 2013, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN via FTP