Early high school graduate Landon Rice (above) is competing for playing time at tight end.
Coordinating the special teams play in addition to coaching the tight ends and H-backs, Fountain’s players will go on public display when the Tigers play their annual A-Day spring game on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kickoff time is set for 3 p.m. CDT.
This spring has been a bit different for Fountain, who is sharing the coaching duties with Tim Horton when it comes to working with the fullback/H-backs Chandler Cox and Kamryn Pettway.
“They are doing real well,” said Fountain in regards to the progress Cox and Pettway have made so far as sophomores.
“What we have done this spring is a little different,”?he pointed out. “We’re letting those guys split time at running back and H-back so they are spending a lot of time in the running back room. They both should be better at H-back and we’re hoping at times we can use them at the running back position.”
Cox is a true sophomore and Pettway a redshirt sophomore. The players Fountain is coaching at tight end are young, too, with true sophomore Jalen Harris competing for playing time with early high school graduate Landon Rice.
Scott Fountain has handled multiple assignments at Auburn for head coaches Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn.
Fountain notes that he sees lots of potential in both and says that Auburn’s head coach, Gus Malzahn, has “made a real commitment to use those tight ends” this season.
“Jalen has gotten much better,” Fountain remarked. “He is starting to grow up a little bit, which he needed to do. Probably in his first year if we had the tight ends, we would have redshirted him. It would have been great, but we just couldn’t.
“He has progressed,” Fountain said. “He is doing really well blocking on the perimeter. It has kind of been his strength. We have got to continue moving forward blocking with the hand down, but we are making some good progress with him.”
Rice enrolled at Auburn in January after an outstanding senior season at Calhoun, Ga., High School where he was named an Under Armour All-American.
“Landon came in and he has been everything that we thought he would be,” said Horton. “He is a good athlete, he’s tough, he’s physical, he’s all of those things.
“I think you’ll see him on the field this fall,” Fountain predicted. “I think he is a guy who brings a lot playing in space. but with the grittiness and toughness to put his hand down and do some things there.”
The motto for this year’s team is “Earn It,” and if anyone did that last year it was kicker Daniel Carlson. The Lou Groza Award finalist went 23-27 on field goal attempts with a long of 56 yards while making all 40 of his extra point attempts.
Daniel Carlson will be a junior for the 2016 season.
“We’ve done two things (with Daniel),” Fountain explained when asked on how you keep someone performing at such a high, consistent level. “One, be consistent. That’s so important. You see guys who have one great year and the next year they drop completely off. Last year the one slight struggle with him was he missed two (short) field goals. One of them had to do with the holding, but the other one he just missed. We’ve tried to focus on those short field goals in the spring.”
Fountain also noted that Carlson was voted team MVP by the players for last season, which was a first in his coaching career for a kicker.
Auburn returns kickoff returners Rudy Ford and Kerryon Johnson. However, due to his shoulder Johnson is not practicing this spring. The player receiving the biggest opportunity in his place is Roc Thomas. Jason Smith and Kyle Davis, a pair of wide receivers, have also gotten looks back there, too.
At punt returner it is currently a Davis affair. Returning starter Marcus Davis is competing with Ryan Davis and Javaris Davis. Marcus Davis, a wide receiver, is the guy to beat for the assignment and Fountain noted that it is time for the senior to take the next step in developing his return game.
“We want an explosive guy back there,” the coach said. “We want Marcus to be aggressive with the ball. From the Iron Bowl until the bowl game we really spent a lot of time emphasizing, ‘Let’s make some big plays. Let’s take some chances.’ He had two big returns (against Memphis) with one for 58 yards and one for 26.”
The Tigers are scheduled to practice again on Tuesday and Thursday prior to Saturday’s spring game, which will be televised on the SEC Network.