Ready and waiting

Only one true freshman suited up and played for the Husky football team in 2002. Now, that player, Nate Robinson, has left the team to put his energy in the roundball. What that leaves is a complete class of redshirt freshmen, and none have been more impressive this spring than Matt Fountaine.

Matt, the younger brother of Husky graduate assistant Jamal Fountaine, has burst upon the scenes showing all the traits that coaches look for in a cornerback. He has great speed, quick closing speed, and sticky hands.

Fountaine says that redshirting the 2002 season was tough at times, but believes it helped him tremendously in his development as a player.

"Going against Reggie (Wiliams), ET (Charles Frederick), Wilbur (Hooks) and Pat Reddick, each person brought something different to the table," Fountaine said. "I saw them on the scout team every day and it really helped me. It was a learning experience."

With Robinson gone from the team, Sam Cunningham out for the spring, and Roc Alexander playing only limited snaps in contact drills, Fountaine has been running with the second-team unit along with senior Chris Massey.

He says that Massey, along with Alexander and Derrick Johnson have helped show what it takes to play at the Pac-10 level. Their experience has helped young No. 6 stay confident in his game.

That's more important now than ever, because the secondary is in adjustment period with new coaches in the fray for 2003. Bobby Hauck, who coached both the safeties and cornerbacks last season, took the Montana head coaching job and in his place is longtime coach Phil Snow. Snow, who coached at UCLA in 2002, has helped instill a new approach in the secondary. The key is accountability - one for all, and all for one.

It's been an up-and-down experience, says Fountaine.

"Learning the new system is kind of difficult at first, but right now we are all holding each other accountable and we are all holding ourselves accountable. And when we mess up we pick each other up."

Already, Snow has said that Fountaine looks the part.

"He's a quick learner who is very coachable and a tough football player," said Snow after one of the first spring practices.

Fountaine, who rooms in the dorms with Kenny James, says he thinks he knows what the defense needs to do to become dominant once again.

"I think teams win when they can go out there as a defensive unit and act like they are on the playground. When you are that relaxed and you are out there - 11 people flying to the ball - that's how we are going to win."

The last time that was the case, it was Jamal, not Matt, who was suited up in the purple and gold. A decade later, Matt finds himself on the same field as his older brother, and says it's been great.

"He's the reason I wanted to be a part of Husky football," Matt said.

Come fall, the little Fountaine may show just how big a part of Husky football he has become.

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