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Football: Stuffel, Boucher hope to cut path to success

By ANDY WOLF

STAFF WRITER

Any standard Swiss Army Knife comes with a blade, a screwdriver, a can/bottle opener and other handy multi-tooled attachments.

One of the University of Findlay variety comes with the necessary blocking and receiving tools.

But the versatile duties of the Oilers’ fullbacks and tight ends go even deeper.

“We use the term ‘Swiss Army knives’ because we have to be as physical as our linemen, we have to know the quarterback’s checks before they happen,” senior fullback Jacob Boucher said. “We have to have hands like receivers and that’s kind of where the term comes from is being a mixture of everyone.”

Boucher and junior tight end Luke Stuffel (6-foot-6, 269 pounds) both emerged at their positions for the Oilers last season.

Both came to UF rooted in blocking before developing into receiving threats.

The pair came on strong in the Oilers’ playoff run.

Over the two games, Boucher caught 10 passes for 99 yards while Stuffel chipped in seven catches and 82 yards.

Findlay, utilizing the run-pass option, was already averaging 40-plus points per game.

A dynamic offense got even more dynamic.

“It just helps our offense as a whole because I’m not just going to be in the game to block,” Boucher said. “It makes the defense worry about one more guy to catch the ball.”

Boucher and Stuffel are not only groomed players but evolved individuals, size-wise.

Boucher came to UF in 2015 as a 5-foot-11, 185-pound wide receiver.

He currently checks in at 245 pounds.

“Just playing receiver, I wasn’t really playing at all,” Boucher said. “I knew my role as a practice guy. I was the last guy in line on the travel squad for receiver. I wanted to play so I put on extra weight, asked him to try me out here at fullback.”

Boucher said coming from a run-heavy offense at Canton (Mich.) High School helped ease the transition.

In a way, the O-line blocking schemes came more naturally to him than receiver concepts.

He made his impact first as a blocker early in the season. Boucher was hardly a factor as a receiver with one 5-yard catch in the first five weeks.

In Week 7, he turned four of his five catches (48 yards) into first downs in a key matchup at Hillsdale.

That spark set the tone for the rest of the season.

“He’s one of those guys in a critical situation, you get him out in the flat and he’s going to catch a pass,” UF coach Rob Keys said. “He did a really good job with yards after catch, too.”

Boucher’s 291 yards on 25 catches last season finished at a peak of 60 yards on seven catches in UF’s playoff loss to Assumption.

Lining up out of the backfield, Boucher would mimic a normal blocker before popping out into the flat, often unnoticed until he was rumbling free down the sideline.

Meanwhile, Stuffel doubled his freshman catch-total to 18 receptions, 202 yards and one touchdown.

He came to UF a bit undersized to play on the offensive line and stuck at tight end because of his athletic ability.

“That’s where I’ve helped fit in for the team best,” Stuffel said.

Keys noted multiple NFL scouts coming in to look at his seniors and juniors.

“(Stuffel) is one of those guys that catches the scouts’ eye,” Keys said. “He’s going to be a weapon for us. He’s finally figured out that he’s big and strong as anybody out there and he’s physically imposing his will at the point of attack in the run game. But at the same time he’s done a good job in his pass routes.”

The blocking techniques came easier to Stuffel, who has benefited from a size increase.

He has put those extra 28 pounds to good use.

“It’s coming to the point where I’m on my own blocking, less combo blocks,” Stuffel said. “It makes it a lot easier with an extra 20 pounds.”

The depth at the positions doesn’t stop at Boucher and Stuffel.

Junior Nate Slagel (6-0, 266) has been more of a running threat (511 yards) at fullback but serves multiple purposes with Nate Densel (6-0, 244) being more of a pass catcher lining up at tight end.

Keys believes Chioke Bradley (6-3, 253), a University of Toledo transfer, also shares the ability.

Just like a regular Swiss Army knife, each tool in the group shares its own strength.