Daurice Fountain has felt 'wanted' before. As a 3-star high school prospect out of Wisconsin, he was a prime MVFC recruiting battle years ago — one of the more highly rated prospects who signed with an FCS program in 2014. Northern Iowa came out the winner and Fountain went on to become a 2,000-yard career receiver.
Now, he has NFL teams acting like those MVFC programs did in the winter of 2013-14.
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Fountain, who stands 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, has been trending for months, and then he solidified himself in the eyes of pro scouts with his showing all week in January at the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He led all receivers in yardage in the actual game, had two punt returns for 40 yards, and had a very strong week in workouts. In an all-star setting where it's very difficult to shine — especially as an offensive skill player whose offense had three days to do introductions and become viable — having 100-plus yards of production in an all-star game was a big deal for Fountain.
That week's rich experience has left Fountain smiling ever since. NFLDraftScout has him going in the 5th to 6th round, DraftAnalyst has him going in the 4th, others have him in similar spots in the draft, even without a combine invite (which is leaving many to scratch their heads).
Northern Iowa's Daurice Fountain (right, 10) and Wisconsin's Natrell Jamerson were Shrine Game MVPs.
"It definitely helped me gain some experience of being in a legit NFL practice, and that was one of the first things the coaches said when we got there that Sunday," Fountain told HERO Sports. "They said that for most of us, it would be our first NFL practice and we'd be working with NFL coaches and this is how it goes. And the meetings were much longer. It was just so great to compete with those guys from bigger schools, coming from the FCS, and it was great to go against them and prove to scouts we can play at a high level."
Now back in Denver, Fountain has been training with Loren Landow Performance to prep himself for the meat market kind of stuff ahead of him. UNI's pro day is one focus, now that it would appear the NFL Combine head-scratchingly won't be extending an invite to the Shrine Game's 93rd all-time offensive MVP. He will continue to work with Andrew Simms of Young Money PlayersRep — the agency begun by the performer Lil Wayne.
One of the key things Fountain proved in January is that he can contribute on special teams — which is a good thing to have on your resume as an FCS product. The level is known for sometimes getting a "one strike and you're out" opportunity, so being able to ply more than one trade (play multiple positions, be a standout special teams player, etc) makes you more marketable, and Fountain has done exactly that.
"A lot of scouts asking me throughout the Shrine Game week if I was able to play special teams, so that was one of those big things I wanted to do going into the game," Fountain said. "Whether it was running down on a kickoff or the punt returning, that was one thing I was really focused on. It was crazy how it worked out for me. All the chips fell at the right time. The Chargers scout told me that when he went back to vouch for me, he said, "I've got to tell them you like special teams, because we don't have a wide receiver who likes it". I want them all to know that I'm a football player first instead of just a receiver.
"Receivers have a reputation for being Divas, they don't want to get their hands dirty. But that's not me."
Aside from the Chargers, several teams seemed to show a lot of interest. The Rams, the Texans, the Panthers and especially the Cardinals — thanks to what UNI product David Johnson has done since coming from Northern Iowa — also spent a lot of time with Fountain. The Texans talked to him for awhile and looked over game film.
"I always thought my athleticism was second to none but after the first day there I got that assurance," Fountain said. "It's so crazy to actually be sitting down and talking to those scouts. I never thought in a million years a guy from Northern Iowa would get this opportunity. It's a blessing."