Fontenot vital to Cats' success

He may not be a name that is familiar to a lot of Wildcat fans, but they need to learn it. After the smoke cleared from spring drills, Wilrey Fontenot was one of the two starting corner backs. There is a long way to go between now and the NAU game, but the speedy Texan has made an impression.

The Wildcat coaching staff was intrigued with the speed of Wilrey Fontenot before they ever stepped onto the football field. As one of the fastest players on the team, he quickly turned heads in conditioning sessions.

He continued to impress once the team strapped on the pads and is now poised to be a starter. There's a lot of work to be done, and nothing is certain, but Fontenot is happy to be in the mix at corner.

"I'm just looking to help out the team any way I can," Fontenot said. "Whether it is special teams, or just playing basically anywhere on the field."

Fontenot has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He has the daunting task of trying to replace departing seniors Michael Jolivette and Gary Love. He redshirted last season, but knew that he'd have his opportunity this season. Fontenot worked very hard to be in the position that he is now.

"I was thinking all of season about the open spots," Fontenot said. "I was just working hard all offseason, staying after practices trying to get extra reps. You're losing two seniors, so it is like it's open for anybody, so you have to take advantage of that. You just have to make the best of it."

The corner back position may be the make or break position for the Wildcat defense. Every other position has depth and experience, but not corner. Only seniors Luis Nunez and Zeonte Sherman have played the position at the D-I level, and neither player has exactly shown that he is the next Chris McAllister. Joining Fontenot is JC transfer Keil McDonald and converted running back Gainus Scott. True freshmen B.J. Dennard and Antoine Cason will also be given a shot in the fall.

Fontenot is a little on the short side, but is one of the fastest players on the squad. At only 5-9, he is much shorter than Mike Stoops' ideal cornerbacks, but his 4.4 speed and willingness to work hard has made him a coaches' favorite.

Although the coaches have taken a liking to Fontenot, he in turn raves about the new staff. He has nothing but the highest regard for both Mike and Mark Stoops and is excited with what they have to offer.

"You have a feeling you are going to get much better working out with two great DB coaches, one being from Miami and one being from Oklahoma," Fontenot said. "They are bringing in great expectations and great reputations, drawing great recruits and everything. With Coach Stoops you learn a lot of stuff like quick reads. With other coaches you wouldn't learn you wouldn't learn quick steps."

It has been a smooth transition from the prior staff to the new staff, but it has taken a lot of work. Fontenot admits to making a lot of mistakes and spending plenty of time after practices and in the coaches' offices brushing up on the new defense.

"I had to deprogram pretty much," Fontenot explained. It has been an all-new learning experience. It is a lot different. Last defense we only had right and left corners. This year we have wide corners, so you have to adjust to each side. Pretty much you have to learn each corner spot."

Not only did Fontenot have to learn a new defense and adjust to a new staff, but he had to get used to the rigors of the offseason training program and go through spring drills. In high school a good athlete was always competing other sports this time of year, so all of this has been another new adjustment.

"It's a different experience," said Fontenot. "In high school you had two-a-days and not much else. This time of year I was used to just working out and running track, so it's a little bit different. It's straight football now in an effort to get better."

2004 OUTLOOK: A starting corner back spot is his to lose. He will also be a factor on special teams. He was a great returner in high school and could handle kick off returns this season. His size isn't ideal, but he's one of the three or four fastest players on the team and has the speed to match-up with most any receiver. Was a top-notch sprinter in high school.


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