Carrying the football is what usually leads to running backs getting attention.
It’s the little things that often get them on the field, however.
Entering his third year with the Colorado Buffaloes, sophomore Alex Fontenot is one of a handful of running backs fighting for playing time in a wide-open competition. He hasn’t forgotten what he learned two years ago from CU great Phillip Lindsay.
“With him, you can’t hate one thing and do everything else,” Fontenot said. “You have to love everything you do and be that complete running back.”
Lindsay, now in his second year with the Denver Broncos, was the ultimate all-around back who embraced – and excelled – in pass blocking, catching the ball and running.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Fontenot is starting to embrace all of those things, as well.
“Pass blocking to me is like second nature,” he said. “I actually like doing it. Catching the ball out of the backfield is pretty fun, too. Usually nobody guards the back when they come out of the backfield, so that’s the most fun part.”
Most fun for Fontenot is the opportunity in front of him.
Fontenot redshirted as a true freshman in 2017, while Lindsay handled the load at running back in completing his great career with the Buffs. Last year, the Buffs brought in graduate transfer Travon McMillian. While Fontenot still had the opportunity to compete, it was clear McMillian was signed to handle the job.
Now, it’s actually Fontenot who is the “veteran” of the group, despite having just 11 career rushing attempts. The other four scholarship running backs are all either redshirt or true freshmen with a combined zero carries.
“I’m really happy to know that finally I have an opportunity to play a significant amount,” he said. “Really I just have to do what I’ve been doing and show out and eventually my time will come.”
Of course, being the oldest of the group doesn’t guarantee Fontenot a starting spot. True freshman Jaren Mangham has the tools to be the lead back and redshirt freshman Deion Smith has consistently impressed in practice. Redshirt freshman Jarek Broussard and true freshman Joe Davis have flashed their ability, as well.
Running backs coach Darian Hagan and head coach Mel Tucker have both said they hope to have a stable of running backs who can deliver, so there’s a good chance most – if not all – of the backs will get chances to shine.
“I like competition,” Fontenot said. “All the competition does is make me work harder. Obviously, it’s my ultimate goal to start, but if it’s by committee, I have no problem with that.
“We definitely all have the skill sets to do big things.”
Tucker likes the skills that Fontenot brings to the CU offense.
“He’s got really good burst and acceleration,” Tucker said. “He runs strong, he finishes runs and he’s a willing blocker in pass protection.”
Whether Fontenot winds up as the lead back or not remains to be seen, but he is confident that he can be a part of what could be a very good offense.
“I think it’s going to be a lot better than people think it’s going to be,” Fontenot said of the Buffs’ offense. “We’re going to have the ball all around. We have backs we can rotate in, receivers we can rotate in.”
More than ever, Fontenot is suited to be a part of that rotation.
“I’m pretty comfortable by now,” he said. “Especially now that I actually know what I’m doing.”