Rashard Fant, a 5-foot-10 ½ 160-pound athlete from Fayetteville, Georgia, has a lot of eyes on him as his senior year approaches. Fant holds scholarship offers from a long list of schools spanning the width of the country including offers from top programs such as Florida State, Ole Miss, and Utah. While Fant says he isn't in a rush to make a decision, he already has his eyes set on four.
As a junior in 2011 Fant starred for Our Lady of Mercy in all three phases of the game. He rushed for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns, added 530 receiving yards and 8 more touchdowns, and really set himself apart on special teams by returning 8 of 10 total kick returns for scores. And though he was limited on defense, he led his team in tackles when his they faced the top team in the region.
Those stats put him on the map, but his performance at the Atlanta MVP Camp in March is what started to bring the offers in. At the camp Fant recorded a blazing 4.37 40 time and was named one of the top cornerbacks in attendance. His strong camp performance has had teams calling ever since.
After naming the Utes as one of his top four schools, I reached out to Fant to get the details about his recruitment, his connection to Coach Shah and the Utah program, and his goals for the upcoming season.
Q: I understand you've got a lot of schools after you. I've seen the list of teams talking to you and the offers you currently hold and I understand that Utah is one of the schools that you have named to your top-four. Tell me why you've got Utah at the top.
A: Yes sir, I have Utah up at the top of the list right now because first and foremost the relationship that I have with Coach Shah my recruiting coordinator and the cornerbacks coach. Also, Utah is in the Pac-12 which is a great conference and I know they're doing great things out there. I'm excited to see what they're going to do this season.
I've heard great things about the school as a whole, I heard Salt Lake City is beautiful, so all of that plus my relationship with the coach and the interest he shows in me I felt they have the things I'm looking for so I put them in my top four.
Q: How did Coach Shah find you? You're in Georgia, a state that Utah doesn't typically recruit, so how did he come across your name and how did he first reach out to you?
A: [Coach Shah] has a good friend that is from Virginia that we call ‘Coach Z' who saw me at the Wake Forest camp. Coach Z reached out to Coach Shah and told him he really needed to take a look at this kid from Georgia – he's fast and he has really good coverage skills. Then Coach Z told me to call Coach Shah and when I did we had a real long conversation. He told me how he loved my film, how he'd heard great things about me, and that he thought I'd be a great player for him playing at that level.
Q: What position is he recruiting you to play?
A: He's recruiting me as a corner because he's the cornerbacks coach but he's told me the quarterbacks coach and the offensive coach have been saying ‘man we need to get this dude on offense too' so they're definitely recruiting me as an athlete.
Q: I've heard a lot about your speed and understand you ran a sub-4.4 40. Tell me about your speed, the type of player that you are, and how your speed plays in to your overall game.
A: Well first and foremost I'm a competitor. I get real competitive no matter what it is and I love to play. On the field I like to have fun. I take the game serious but I like to have fun while I'm out there. I like to make plays and change the game, I consider myself a game-changer, and my speed definitely helps me whether it's pulling away from DB's or being able to keep up with the other team's best receiver man-to-man in lockdown or being able to catch a kick or punt return and take it back for a touchdown I can change the total atmosphere of the game.
My junior year I saw a lot of double and triple-teams so I know I'm a factor even when I don't have the ball which opens up things for my teammates. I'm the type of player that's going to grind, I'm a grinder. I love to work hard.
Q: Would you prefer to play on one side of the ball over the other?
A: I'm going to go where the coaches need me the most. I've played both sides of the ball for a long time and I'm hoping that I can go to a school that will allow me to make an impact on both sides of the ball whether that's on offense and defense or on special teams. I know that Utah will let me play corner and let me go in and make an impact in the return game and maybe on offense as well.
Q: Utah prides themselves on their defensive backs and the program has a history of putting a high number of defensive backs into the NFL. Has Coach Shah talked to you about this and is playing in the NFL one of those things that is real important to you?
A: The NFL, if I have that chance and I'm really hoping God gives me that opportunity, I would love to go there. I know about the DB's that [Utah] puts in the league and I know they're one of the top, but Coach Shah and I have a relationship where a lot of our conversations really don't focus on football. He wants to know what's going on in my life, what's going on with my family. When we do talk he'll give me little quizzes testing me and seeing how much I know about football. We just have great talks and I enjoy talking to him and I know that if I want to get to the NFL Utah is a great place for me to be.
Q: Is your relationship with Coach Shah one of the reasons why Utah is at the top of your list?
A: Yes sir, it definitely is. It's definitely good knowing that you have a coach that you can go to and talk to when you're missing home or when you need help getting through the semester so it's definitely good that me and him have a great relationship.
Q: Have you taken any official visits at this point?
A: Yes, I've taken a visit to every school in my top four (Kentucky, Florida State, Ole Miss, Utah) besides Utah.
Q: Do you plan on making a trip out to Salt Lake City?
A: Yes sir, I'm planning to come out there to catch the USC game on Thursday night October 4th.
Q: What are you looking for when you come out?
A: I'm looking for academics first. Coming from a private school I've been raised on grades and schooling so I want to make sure they offer my major and how the academics are. I also want to check out the community and see if I catch that vibe like ‘yeah I could be here' and see if it's a real family environment. A lot of times coaches will say it's that way but you'll visit and notice it's not and that's important to me. Finally I want to watch the other players and see how they like the program. I want to see if they're always engaged or if they just go through the motions every day.
Q: What are your personal goals for your upcoming high school season?
A: First and foremost I want to be better than I was last year. I want to leave no doubt. Some people want to question me saying ‘oh he's too small, he won't make it' but I want to prove on the field that I can. Making All-State would be great, and setting personal career accomplishments would be great as well. For the team, I want us to make state for the first time in school history. I want us to go to the dome and play in that state championship game and hopefully win it.
Q: You've got Kentucky and Ole Miss in your top four. It's hard to deny what the SEC has done lately as a conference; does Utah have a realistic shot in your eyes when put up against those schools and that conference?
A: Definitely Utah has a realistic shot. I believe the Pac-12 is a great conference. The SEC is known for having playmakers but they're typically on defense. The Pac-12 and the Big Ten are known for passing the ball, offense, throwing it, so coming from the south as a corner going out there and being able to shut those top passing teams in the nation down that's what I want. It's a great conference and Utah is a great program so they definitely have a chance.
Q & A with Athlete Rashard Fant
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