The wide receiver room for the Indianapolis Colts is one that needs filling out. The only sure thing is that T.Y. Hilton will be doing what T.Y. Hilton does — wearing strange backpacks and torching defenses. Beyond Hilton, not much is set for the Colts. With that in mind, I have been digging-in to find out more about the Colts’ first wide receiver drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, Daurice Fountain.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk with Fountain’s wide receiver coach at the University of Northern Iowa, Pat McCann, and learn a little bit more about the kind of player and man that Fountain is.
(If you’d like to listen to the interview, you can listen here, in which it begins at the 38-minute mark)
I started out asking for Coach McCann just to give me a general idea what to expect from Fountain and how he might make an impact.
Well, first and foremost, the thing that will stand out about Daurice Fountain is that he’s probably the most energetic person that I’ve ever met. So when he’s not kind of bouncing off the walls, you kind of know, you think something’s up. When he acts like a normal person, you’re going, okay, something might be wrong. And that’s just kind of the way he plays the game.
He plays hard, he comes off the ball with a ton of urgency, and to me, his personality kind of shows through in the way he plays. That’s probably what was most endearing about him to myself and my family and the program, UNI fans. Just his energy. His competitiveness, but his energy.
Next, I asked a question that is on a lot of people’s minds when looking at a small-school, athletic receiver. We know he is a serious athlete — his pro day numbers and a cursory film review show that — but I wanted to know how his route tree and technique stack up.
Well you know, it’s funny, the coaches I talked to and the scouts, they liked him in that regard. He’s a-the thing I’ll say about that with him is that he’s getting better. Everybody says, “Oh, he’s raw.” Well, he’s raw if you watch his first couple years, but he has progressively gotten better. And we asked him to run every route in the book. I saw someone, some draft expert, said all he runs are tunnel screens and fade balls, and that’s false.
I mean, he runs every route, and the cool thing about him is that he works so hard, that to me his best football is ahead of him and as far as his route tree, he’s only going to get better in that area. That’s something that kind of, post-pro day he’s been spending more focus on that, just kind of detailing the transition part of running routes.
Given the level of cornerback play that the Colts face in-division, I wanted to know next just how well Fountain would be able to handle physical press-man corners and what tools would help him do that.
To me, the thing that he does a really good job of is that he’s going to win at the top of routes because he’s strong. And even when you look at kind of what are his strengths, physical strength is one of them. And it shows, I mean he jumps a 42.5-in vertical because he’s a powerful guy. So to me, that’s the big thing that stands out, I mean you’re talking about a guy that is a 330lb bencher, something like that. His squat numbers are big, his hang clean numbers are big, and his power clean numbers are big. So to me, the strength aspect of it is probably the biggest advantage he has as far as winning versus tight coverage, it’s not necessarily the quickness as much as the strength.
I then asked him to give me an example of something that would set Fountain apart to the coaching staff. Something that maybe fans wouldn’t see but that might give him an edge in the eyes of the Colts organization.
This is not me being biased, this is me being fully honest — his work ethic is literally second to none as far as what I’ve been around. I’ve been coaching for-this is my 10th year now. I’ve never seen a guy at any position that I’ve ever been around work as hard as Daurice did for this year. And so I think the thing that’s going to stand out is that, nobody’s going to out-work him as far as learning the offense, learning the system, on the field. He’s one of those guys that-I talked to my current group-you know, Daurice is the last one off the field every single day. Every day he’s the last one off the field.
So I think that it’s just going to be something where, if he doesn’t make it, it will not have anything to do with how hard he works at it. So that’s the thing I think that will stand out that you guys might not see. You know, but, just as far as, he’s going to ask questions in the meeting room, he’s going to sit in the front, he’s going to take notes, he’s going to ask questions as far as the other players. I mean, he’s going to give it everything he’s got to give himself the best chance to compete.
Given the idea that Colts general manager Chris Ballard is wanting to create a culture with this young team, I wanted to find out a little bit about what exactly Fountain brings to the locker room of this Colts team. Would he be like a Marvin Harrison, simply going about his business? A lead by example guy like Andrew Luck? A natural and vocal leader like Peyton Manning?
He probably will be the loudest guy on the field. When he came out, if I didn’t hear him come out of the locker room then I knew something was up. One of our beat writers from one of the local papers, every single time he showed up at practice you’d hear a giant, “Hi, Mr. Nelson!” across the whole dome. And so, his energy is infectious, you know, and people will feed off of that and players will feed off of that. I can tell you my receiver room, it’s noticeable the difference, as far as-it’s kind of like, alright where’s Daurice, as far as from an energy standpoint.
He was elected a captain on this team. We had a few pretty good leaders but he was the only offensive player selected as a captain and if you would have told Daurice four years ago that, you’re going to graduate in 3 ½ years and be a team captain, he would have said you’re crazy. But he did both of those. So to me, he’s just one of those guys, people are going to feed off of him and he’s just such an enjoyable person to be around.
After listening to Coach McCann talk about Fountain, I felt like I had a pretty good idea about the kind of guy he is as far as football, but I asked him to give me a story that shows the kind of person he is off the field.
Well, I guess first and foremost, he’s my kids’ favorite player and it’s not necessarily about on the field. They ask about having him over to dinner all the time. But probably the thing that stands out the most is his personality and his level of engagement. We do our youth camp, and it is a chance for us to kind of employ some of our players and have them around us for our youth camp. And Daurice, day in and day out, brought so much energy to the camp, and he sat there after the last day of camp when we did our autograph session and there were guys there that didn’t sign an autograph all day, and I bet you he signed every single kid in the camp’s. All 100 plus kids, and you’re talking second through eighth grade, and I’ll bet you he signed every single one of their t-shirts and posters, and he sat there until the end. He didn’t complain, he had a smile and was engaging with every single kid all the way through the entire day. And that’s just kind of him. He knows he’s making those kids’ day to sit there and do that and so that’s what I kind of anticipate. You always see in NFL training camps, guys signing autographs after practice, he’s going to do it all. He’ll be super engaging, and that’s probably the best thing about him, to be honest.
As a parting question, I asked him what Fountain’s favorite route was and got the answer you expect from every competitive and speedy receiver.
He loves to run the “go” route. He’s always calling for that one, but you know I’d probably say that because he runs “go” routes and is so effective on them on the deep ball, his comeback route has really progressed and gotten really strengthened for him. He wasn’t running a ton of them and wasn’t really being asked to run a ton of them. You can pretty much trust that he’s going to get open, if you give him a comeback, he’s going to get open.
For me, this was a very encouraging look at the kind of guy Fountain is. He seems like a player who is willing to work hard and listen to those who know more than him. The physical traits he has now are already very well-suited for the offense Frank Reich wants to run, and if he is willing to grind and put in the work, he could be a very solid addition to the roster. It certainly won’t hurt to be catching passes from one of the best quarterbacks in football.
When a coach who has worked closely with Fountain speaks so highly of him, it is telling about the kind of player he can be, and it seems like he is exactly the kind of guy Ballard talked about adding to this roster.