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Fountain of opportunity
Maurice Fountain was in Atlanta preparing to make the trip to Las Vegas to join the Locomotives of the Arena Football League when the phone rang.
It was the Seahawks, offering the well-traveled defensive end another chance to join them, and another crack at making it in the NFL. So it was leaving Las Vegas – before he’d ever left – and hello Seattle.
“I had committed to the Locos, and I was supposed to be there today,” the aptly named Fountain said after Tuesday’s two-hour practice in full pads, as sweat was pouring from every pore.
“Fortunately, Seattle called me Thursday night. So, it’s a dream come true. It was good to have a backup plan, but my ultimate goal was to come to Seattle.”
Fountain flew out on Friday, but didn’t arrive in time for the full-squad meeting at the team hotel. His reintroduction to the ever-changing Seahawks team didn’t occur until the Saturday morning meeting, but the player who spent three weeks on the practice squad last season was in uniform several hours later when the Seahawks kicked off their home preseason schedule against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field.
Despite not practicing with the team since January – or any team, for that matter – the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Fountain tackled Vikings running back Lorenzo Booker for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter and then teamed with rookie middle linebacker K.J. Wright to make another tackle in the fourth quarter.
Talk about living coach Pete Carroll’s “always compete” mantra.
“That’s a tough situation, and it says a lot about the kid,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “You’re talking about flying in, then playing the next day. Maurice was put in a difficult spot.
“But give credit to coach (Todd) Wash, as well. They had meetings and got him schooled up enough to where he could have an effect on some plays. And Maurice was with us last year, so he kind of has a feel for how things go.
“He’s a great kid, so it was great to see it because I know he had a lot of fun.”
Fountain did not want to let this opportunity slip by just because he was a little jetlagged. The NFL is where he wants to play, and the Seahawks are the team he wants to play for.
“That was the plan, to come in and go as hard as I can,” he said of his second-half efforts against the Vikings. “I haven’t played a full game since November 2010, so I just came in and the plan was go as hard as I can for as long as I can. Just try to make some plays and show up on tape.”
That’s because this time of year, it’s not just the Seahawks’ coaches who are watching him, but scouts from every other team in the NFL, as well as the CFL.
“At the end of the day, I believe in my ability,” Fountain said. “Once I’m here long enough, my technique can improve, so the more plays I’ll make.”
Waiting his turn is nothing new for Fountain. He was a force at Camden (S.C.) High School, as evidenced by him being a two-time All-Region selection. But he then attended Fork Union Military Academy, and earned defensive MVP honors in 2000, before making his way to Clemson. Fountain became only the second player in school history to play in 50 games during his career, including three bowl games.
And that’s why Fountain also has connections in the Seahawks’ locker room. He was in the same freshman class at Clemson with linebacker Leroy Hill and quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. But while Hill was a third-round draft choice by the Seahawks in 2005 and Whitehurst a third-rounder by the San Diego Chargers in 2006, Fountain was not drafted – or even signed as a free agent.
He resurfaced in 2007 with the Manchester Wolves of the AF2 League, setting a franchise record with 13 sacks. That got him signed by the Utah Blaze of the AF1 League, and he was selected to the all-rookie team in 2008. That led to Fountain being with the Miami Dolphins during training camp in 2008, but he was released before the season started and played for the Hartford Colonials of the UFL in 2009-10.
And that’s how he got to Seattle, the first time. He was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 28.
All Fountain has to do is cast a quick glance around the overcrowded locker room to realize he’s up against it in his second stay with the Seahawks. The line in front of him on the D-line includes starting ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant; Raheem Brock, who had nine sacks in his first season with the Seahawks and two more in the playoffs; Jimmy Wilkerson, who was signed in free agency last month; and Dexter Davis, a seventh-round draft choice last year who is oozing with pass-rush potential. There also are tackles Junior Siavii and Kentwan Balmer, who are versatile enough to slide out to end.
But now that he’s got his size-14 foot in the door again, Fountain wants to keep it from shutting him out.
“I didn’t want to be the guy that came in and then got shipped right back out,” Fountain said. “Being on the practice squad last year, I really love Seattle. I love the group of players.
“So my plan is to stay here as long as I can, and eventually make the team.” Read