Following a breakout season in 2019, Alex Fontenot was looking forward last fall to picking up where he left off.
Instead, a hip injury kept Fontenot on the sidelines last season, but the Colorado junior is back this spring and ready to compete.
“To me, it felt good,” he said after going through CU’s first practice of spring on Monday. “Obviously, a little rusty, but that’s nothing that practice can’t fix for me.”
Fontenot, listed at 6-feet, 205 pounds, had not practiced since injuring his hip in October, early in CU’s COVID-19 delayed preseason camp, and he hasn’t played a game since Nov. 30, 2019, at Utah, but was ready to roll on Monday.
“He’s back and it’s good to see him at practice,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “He feels good. He doesn’t look like he’s favoring anything. He’s making good cuts; he’s vertically getting push up the field; he’s running strong through the line of scrimmage from what I saw today, so I think he’s over the hump. It’s good to have him back.”
Fontenot, who led the Buffs with 874 rushing yards in 2019, said he’s felt 100 percent healthy for months.
“Getting through this process, really it was just sticking to my rehab that I had to do and really just not going away from that so I can get back on the field as soon as possible,” he said.
“I’ve just been waiting for spring ball to come. I’m ready.”
Fontenot is rejoining an intriguing competition at running back, where Jarek Broussard has becoming the headliner.
A sophomore last fall, Broussard, who battled back from two ACL tears, rushed for 895 yards in six games for the Buffs (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12). He was named Pac-12 offensive player of the year and finished third nationally in yards per game (149.17).
The Buffs’ running back room also includes Ashaad Clayton, a four-star recruit in 2020.
“Watching Bru, that was really fun for me,” Fontenot said. “Seeing his struggle and him finally be able to show what he can do, I’m proud of him for what he did.
“Ashaad, he’s going do great, too. He’s a good back. He’s starting to get the hang of the scheme. I have trust in him.”
With Clayton, sophomores Deion Smith and Joe Davis and freshman Jayle Stacks, the Buffs have a strong group of young running backs.
Nobody in the group, however, has more college experience than Fontenot, who also caught 27 passes in 2019.
Dorrell, going into his second season as head coach, hasn’t had a chance to see Fontenot much in person, but was impressed when watching him on film in 2019.
“I felt he ran hard, was very productive, very consistent,” Dorrell said. “Thank goodness he’s back.”
Now that he is back, Fontenot is ready to compete with Broussard, Clayton and others to prove himself again and regain his spot as a playmaker on the offense.
“(Running backs coach Darian Hagan’s) main point was that it’s anybody’s position, so take that and run with it,” Fontenot said.
“There’s a lot of talent, really, but the way I look at it is like, I know my abilities. I’m going to show out regardless. I’m going to find a way on the field.”