While his older brother, Jamal Fountaine, was deciding to play for Washington in the fall of 1989, Matt was following in his footsteps wherever possible. Pardon the mixed metaphor, but when it came time for Matt to decide where to play college football, it was a resounding slam-dunk.
"When it came to research, all I needed was an offer from Washington," Matt told
Dawgman.com last night.
"That's all it was going to take. I know they have a great Business school, which is what I'm going to do with my life after football. And ever since I saw those guys in the purple with the gold helmets run out of that tunnel I've been a Husky fan. And I know Husky fans are the best fans in college football with all their yelling, screaming and tailgating, and I knew I always wanted to be a part of that tradition.
"There's no place I would rather be," added Fountaine.
It's a tradition Matt knows a lot about, considering Jamal played linebacker on the 1991 National Championship Husky team. Jamal is thrilled that Matt is going to keep the Fountaine legacy alive at Washington.
"Of course I'm ecstatic, and I do think he's made the right decision," said the older Fountaine brother last night from his Seattle home.
"I can't wait to get the little guy up here and into the program. I think he's capable of great things. I'm just really happy that I'll get a chance to see my younger brother work hard and turn into a young man. We're going to have to discuss the living arrangements for
our parents when he gets here (laughs). Sometimes they'll get to stay with me, and sometimes they'll stay with him. What I'm most happy about is that he'll get a chance to enjoy the same college experience that I did. I'll be looking out for him, making sure he's going in the right direction. Hopefully he'll get a chance to experience winning a National Championship. He'll know what it's like to be on top of the college football world."
Matt's reaction to Head Coach Rick Neuheisel's scholarship offer was that of a not-so-cool customer. "I wanted to scream and to jump up and down, but then I had to be cool about it, know what I mean? I had to play it cool. I said, "Thank you very much, and I need to talk to my parents about it."
How long did Matt take to discuss it? "About 5 or 6 seconds of intense thought. There was no doubt in my mind."
Jamal may not have known which way Matt was heading with his ultimate decision and he hid his biases as best he could. "I just wanted to allow Matthew to make his own decision. I just wanted him to make the best informed decision he could make for himself," he said.
Matt's older brother Jamal in action at Husky Stadium – (Photo courtesy UW Media Relations, Photographer - Joanie Komura)
"I just gave him little tidbits here and there about things, but I wanted to make sure that I allowed him to make his choice. I didn't have a real feel for how things were going to go,
but I knew that he's always been partial to the Huskies. And I also knew he was getting good looks from some of the finest institutions from all over the country. I was never
worried about him not choosing the Huskies, but rather excited for his opportunity to play at a place that is one of the best in the country both athletically and academically."
The new coaching staff has already made a positive impression on both the Fountaine brothers.
"I've interacted with them a bit in social settings, and I'm very impressed," Jamal said about Neuheisel's Husky coaches. "I told them that if they ever decided to give Matthew an opportunity that he would not let them down."
Matt described Neuheisel's attitude as that of taking another piece of our family back to Washington. "He talked about 'Coming Home', and told me that if I was anything like my older brother, he couldn't wait to coach me."
The younger Fountaine is excited about his future but he isn't letting himself jump too far ahead. "It's just such a great feeling, but I can't get too into it right now because we play the league champs this Friday (San Leandro)."
That kind of focus and determination to succeed is something that runs in the Fountaine family.
"He's a real hard worker, and he's going to need to be that to do well at Washington," Jamal said.
Speaking of San Leandro, Matt will be matched up against one of California's top athletes in Jarrad Page. He hopes to be up to the challenge and expects to be ready on Friday.
"Well, I first look to get their running game shut down, which means they'll have to
throw. Then that's where I come in."
And offensively? "Well, I play some slot and he's playing some outside linebacker. It's going to be a long night for Jarrad Page."
It's that type of confidence and execution that earned Matt scholarship offers from UCLA, Montana, Idaho State and Georgetown, as well as the Huskies.
"Other schools, like USC and Oregon called and asked me if I was going to Washington, and when I told them yes, they wished me good luck," said the younger Fountaine.
Matt didn't rule out the possibility of taking visits, but it sounds like he's looking to just
have a good time. "I'd like to take a couple of visits, to places like UCLA, Oregon and Hawaii," he said. "To be honest, I'd just be taking them to have
fun, but I need to talk to my coaches and my Dad first. I may not end up taking any at all, other than the Washington trip."
Jamal's been keeping up with Matt's exploits at Bishop O'Dowd, including his recent 5-TD outburst against Moreau Catholic.
"Man, I saw that!" Jamal exclaimed. "I got 4 in a game, but it took me the whole game to do it. I guess he's already doing better than me, and I hope he can have twice the career I had at Washington. That would be a dream come true."
Even though his scholarship is now secured, Matt isn't letting down one bit. "A lot of people might think the pressure is off for me, but to me, it's just started. Now I've
got to prove that I'm dominant at the High School level."
In two games, opponents have thrown to Fountaine's side of the field three times. "One was caught on a little hitch pattern for 4 yards, one was deflected by a linebacker and one was picked off. They may think they can lull me into complacency, but I'll be there waiting," said Fountaine.
Washington is recruiting Matt to play cornerback, where he can put his 4.4 speed
Jamal just found out about Matt's verbal commitment last night, and can't wait to see his younger brother. "I coach in Ballard, so I probably won't be able to see any of his regular season games, but I know they'll make the playoffs," he said. "Hopefully I'll see him on his recruiting trip to Washington. I can't wait to see him. I'm so excited! I'm going to sock him in the chest when I see him. It's just something I do. I'm going to make him say 'Uncle'. But then again, he's getting big, so maybe I won't do that," said Jamal with a laugh.
Matt plans on visiting Washington on the 8th, and thinks he just might start getting the upper hand on older brother. "That's a good thought," he said when thinking
about possibly getting socked. "He needs to stop doing that. I just might kick him."
Brotherly antics aside, it is all a part of a sibling relationship that is as deep as the purple
on Matt's future jersey. "I'll probably just give him a hug and he'll give me a wedgie or
something like that. He'll do something to squash me, but he's just big brother. That's what they do."
Matt and Jamal Fountaine - Soul to Soul
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