Nov. 2, 2006
By Justin Chartrey
The hope for any collegiate player is that he leaves a good legacy, whether that be winning a national championship or leaving a mark in the record books. For Matt Fountaine, that meant trying to turn around a program that has not been to a bowl game in the past four years.
Coming out of high school at Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland, Calif., Washington was a perfect fit for Fountaine. His brother Jamal Fountaine was a member of the 1991 national championship team at the UW, so he already had a connection with the school and the football program.
"Washington was the only school I ever thought of," he said. "I got other offers but this is where I wanted to go."
Having seen his older brother play at the UW and have great success as a Husky, Fountaine had similar aspirations when he signed. Instead, he has been right in the middle of one of this program's most turbulent stretches.
In his high school days, Fountaine played all aspects of the game as a running back on offense and as a corner on defense. In his senior season, he rushed for 1,885 yards and 26 touchdowns, and on defense he racked up eight interceptions. His skill caught the eye of several publications, placing him among the top recruits in the state of California. That attention also caught the eye of several programs around the nation.
"My junior year I started running the ball well," he said. "I started getting letters from schools and I realized that I could play [Division I]."
He never had the opportunity to play for Rick Neuheisal -- the coach who recruited him -- but for the past four years he has worked at being the best player he could be.
Fountaine credits his current coaching staff with that development as a defensive player after being primarily a running back in high school.
Since his redshirt freshman season in 2003, Fountaine has been on the field in almost every game. In 2003, he saw action in 10 of the 11 games, and the following year played in every game.
To his coaches, he is a reliable veteran in the secondary.
In Washington's first seven games -- when Dashon Goldson was recovering from an ankle injury -- Fountaine fi lled in nicely, recording 44 tackles, including a season-high nine against both Oklahoma and USC. Those totals easily eclipsed his previous season-high of 39.
He also brings the kind of veteran leadership and experience that is necessary for any team in the rebuilding phase. He is a man who wants to make leadership an everyday part of his life.
In the future, Fountaine said that he wants to become the mayor of Oakland, his hometown. Having graduated with a degree in political science, he would love to make a difference in the political world as soon as he can.
"I'm really interested in the political developments that go on in a lot of the urban diverse areas," he said. "I want to know how aspects of life affect decisions that are made, and I want to be a part of that when I get older."
On this team, he is getting plenty of opportunity to lead as one of the seniors.
"He's a great teammate," said teammate Roy Lewis. "He's an older guy and has been around for a while. He's a great player to play with."
For Fountaine, perhaps that will be his legacy: The constant leader and a guy who gave his all every time he was on the field.