Almost all of the players who led the Colorado football team in the main statistical categories in 2019 are gone.
Several graduated after that season. Others have moved on more recently. Even the coaching staff from that fall is gone.
Running back Alex Fontenot remains in Boulder, however, and is striving to bust out of the shadows once again.
“There’s no question I think people (on the outside) have forgotten about him,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said.
A sixth-year senior, Fontenot spent two years as a backup before he led the Buffs in rushing (874 yards, five touchdowns) in 2019. He then missed 2020 with an injury and spent last year as a backup.
“They can forget all they want,” the 6-foot, 205-pound Fontenot said with a smile. “I feel like I’m better than (in 2019). I’m about 10 pounds heavier, running the same speed. So I feel like a freight train right now. I’m feeling good.”
Fontenot, from George Ranch High School in Richmond, Texas, played a backup role to Phillip Lindsay and then Travon McMillian early in his career before busting loose in 2019.
In 2020, with Fontenot out, Jarek Broussard was the star, earning Pac-12 offensive player of the year honors. Fontenot was back last year, but Broussard led the Buffs in rushing again.
In January, Broussard transferred to Michigan State, opening the door for Fontenot to once again lead the run game. Fontenot is motivated to prove that he, junior Deion Smith, and the rest of the backs can get the job done.
“Yeah, we definitely still have some firepower in the backfield,” he said. “If people think (Broussard) was the only thing that we had, then that’s on them, but they’re gonna be surprised when we come out here and put up numbers.
“I think it’s a solid duo (with Smith). We both might look similar in stature, but we’re both completely different types of runners. I think that to a defense that will really kind of mess them up. I think it’ll be like a great little one-two punch this year. I’m excited to see how it works out.”
Fontenot, who finished with 326 yards and five touchdowns last year, missed the end of spring with an injury, but is back and shining during the first week of CU’s preseason camp.
“He’s having an outstanding camp right now,” Dorrell said. “He’s kind of got a business attitude, gets the work in, doesn’t say boo. But you notice him on the field whenever he gets a rep.
“I just see his confidence in his movement skills and the things he’s doing right now just reminds me where it was a couple of years ago.”
Never lacking in confidence, Fontenot is even more so after adding weight and muscle in the offseason.
“When I’m in practice, I lower my shoulder and I don’t feel like I’m getting bounced,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m bouncing; I feel like I’m delivering the blow and just keep moving forward.”
Fontenot is typically looking ahead but said he’s enjoyed his journey at CU and is eager to make his final year his best year.
“Definitely it’s been a weird journey,” he said. “But if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would. I had the opportunity to be behind some great backs, such as Phil Lindsay and also Travon.
“(Being at CU) has taught me a lot of life lessons, which I’m grateful for.”