RENTON, Wash. (AP) — While the kids on the grass berm jockeyed for autograph position and screamed to get the attention of Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner, George Fant stood a few feet away being tutored by assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel.
For the next few minutes, even with the commotion nearby, Fant pummeled the padded base holding up the scoreboard next to the Seattle Seahawks’ practice field as he worked on hand placement and the initial strike needed to play offensive line in the NFL.
Another day. Another lesson on playing offensive line for Fant — an undrafted rookie project and former basketball player.
“I’m the type of person I want to go as hard as I can and learn as much as I can as fast as I can,” Fant said. “That’s the process for that. The learning part is not done. I’m learning something new every day. That’s my thing coming in every day. If something bad happens, it happens. I keep trying to learn something else, learn something that’s going to fix what happened. That’s my whole thing. Fix it. Not dwell on it, fix it.”
Fant’s football education continues Thursday night when the Seahawks play the Minnesota Vikings in their second preseason game. Fant is beyond raw when it comes to his football experience.
Consider that Fant is the 13th-leading scorer all-time on the basketball court at Western Kentucky. That his last real organized football came in the eighth grade, despite playing sparingly on special teams for WKU. That basic skills like getting into the proper stance, the proper hand placement, the proper footwork, while second nature to his teammates, are almost completely new for Fant.
“It’s almost like you would do with young kids just kind of start them from the very beginning,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “Which is to get them in the right stance, tell them what they should see with their eyes, what their hands are for, how they fit into the scheme and then you keep working fundamentally to keep their body down and teach them to play with the speed and violence you need to play this game.”
Fant needed some serious convincing to take on football. With an extra year of eligibility at Western Kentucky, Fant took on the challenge. He was mostly limited to special teams and when he participated in Western Kentucky’s pro day in the spring, he was listed as a potential offensive lineman, defensive lineman or tight end.
Seattle, with its history of taking on projects, saw Fant’s potential at offensive tackle.
“He’s a big body, long-armed guy, big body, athletic,” Cable said. “Truthfully, he’s probably more athletic than the typical tackle in this league. That’s a positive. But so much to learn. He’s on it, working his tail off and I like where he’s at so far.”
Fant got his first true game action last Saturday in Seattle’s preseason opener against Kansas City. He was self-admittedly jittery at the start and made minor mistakes that come with that anxiousness. It was understandable and he believes completely correctable. Fant was in for 44 plays, second-most of any offensive lineman. He’s likely to get another significant chunk of playing time against the Vikings as Seattle continues to assess Fant’s future potential. He seems a prime candidate to land on a practice squad and develop.
“That old saying, ‘Dot your ‘I’s’ and make sure you do everything from A-to-Z.’ Well, we’re at A to B,” Cable said. “That’s where we are at right now and that’s where we should be. There is nothing wrong with that. He’s on track that way.”
NOTES: Seattle coach Pete Carroll said a number of players will sit out Thursday, including RBs C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls, SS Kam Chancellor and TE Jimmy Graham. Carroll also said it’s unlikely RT J’Marcus Webb will play.
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