The University of Northern Iowa is beginning to build momentum as a recruiter and developer of NFL talent. Another Panthers alum fell to the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft due to some concerns about playing against a lower level of competition and having his freakish athleticism and all-world production translate to the NFL. That player was David Johnson.
While Daurice Fountain is not David Jonnson in terms of pre-draft hype or collegiate resume, he is an impressive athlete who capitalized on the opportunity to get a lot better during the 2017 season. He has been referred to as a “one-year wonder” due the significant increase in his production in his final season with the Panthers. In his final season, Fountain caught 66 passes 943 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the focal point of the UNI offense and abused his competition (33 receptions for 413 yards and 5 touchdowns as a junior).
What legitimizes his senior season performance is another impressive showing at the East-West Shrine game. He finished the game as the offensive MVP with 3 catches for 61 yards and two punt returns for another 40 yards. This capped off an impressive week of practice where he turned heads among the scouting community and was one of the fastest risers on draft boards.
If his on-field performance wasn’t enough to get the attention of NFL teams, his Pro Day performance surely did. Fountain’s 42.5-inch vertical jump would have been best among all wide receivers invited to the NFL Combine by 2 1/2 inches. He also had an impressive broad jump of 11 feet, 2 inches (better than any Combine receiver tested) and ran a 4.46 40-yard dash — which would have been the sixth best time of all Combine receivers. He accomplished all of this at 6’1” and 210 lbs., which is certainly bigger than a lot of receivers he outperformed.
There is very little doubt that Fountain has NFL caliber athleticism and belongs in the same room as more touted prospects. He will have to adjust to playing against a higher level of competition but was selected as his team’s only offensive captain and praised by his coaches as a tireless worker. If he can bring the same kind of work ethic and energy to the NFL as he brought to the weight room, practices, and the field in his final season at UNI, don’t count him out.