Where Are They Now: Fant remembers time as a Hoosier
For Rashard Fant, there was a time where there was nowhere else he would rather be than in Bloomington and on the field at Memorial Stadium.
As a member of the Indiana football team from 2013-2017, the Atlanta, Georgia defensive standout tells TheHoosier.com the four-and-a-half years he spent at Indiana were "truly some of the best years" of his life.
"It’s crazy how before college people always tell you 'These are some of the best years of your life and it’ll go by so fast'. Indeed, it did. I definitely wish it could have been longer, but I am grateful for all the great people I met during my time there and friendships I developed," Fant told TheHoosier.com.
As a star prep player at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fant made a name for himself in all three facets, serving as the team's offensive and special teams player of the year twice and being selected to play in the 2013 Offensive-Defensive All-American Bowl.
For his senior season, Fant rushed for 614 yards on 33 carries and found the end zone five times. He also reeled in 21 catches for 303 yards and five touchdowns, and he added a pair of kick and punt return touchdowns. Defensively, Fant amassed 36 tackles, four interceptions and nine pass breakups as a cornerback.
With colleges showing interest, Fant, ultimately, opted for Indiana because it reminded him of his high school program -- one that had not experienced a lot of success but was in need of just the right players and belief.
Fant provided both.
"Additionally, I loved what IU could provide for me academically and off the field," Fantasias said. "During other talks with coaches and visits with schools, only a couple of coaches truly talked about my development as a man and life after ball. Coach Brandon Shelby was one of those coaches. Ultimately, my relationship with him and all that IU could offer me both on and off the field, made me want to come to IU and help change the program.".
After redshirting as a freshman, Fant made an immediate impact on the Hoosiers as a redshirt freshman, netting 23 stops to go with five pass breakups and a fumble recovery while playing in all 12 games. He was second among Big Ten freshmen and tied for third on Indiana's team in pass breakups.
Fortunately for the Hoosiers, he was only getting started.
As a sophomore, he was the top in the Big Ten Conference and second nationally with 22 pass breakups. He also recorded 52 stops, one and a half tackles for loss, one interception and a fumble recovery while starting 12 games and playing in all 13, including the Pinstripe Bowl against Duke.
Three times, he recorded a career high four pass breakups against Florida International and at both Wake Forest and Maryland. Against Duke, he collected his first career interception.
Fant would continue his domination as a junior and senior for the Hoosiers. When the dust settled, he would become Indiana's all-time leader with 58 passes defended and 53 pass breakups. For his career, he appeared in 49 games, registering 132 stops, 119 solo tackles, five tackles for a loss, five interceptions, one interception for a touchdown and three fumble recoveries.
While some may have been surprised with his success, Fant was not.
"I was not surprised by the success I had during my time at IU," Fant said. "When I first got to IU, I was extremely lucky to have to cover Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn, and Duwyce Wilson day in and day out. Then throughout the 2016 season I had to cover Camion Patrick basically every single play in practice that year. All of this allowed me to refine my coverage skills, learn from other great players, and be able to gain experience cover different types of receivers.
"I believe those on field experience, coupled with constant film study and extra work. These are all things I believe ultimately led to me being able to have success and having other great players around me, such as: Tegray Scales, Marcus Oliver, Jon Crawford, Tony Fields, and Marcelino Ball to name a few."
When it comes to fondest memories, 2016 comes to mind.
"Just the development of the defense that year, the rapport we had within that team and how I personally played. That year, I believe started what we are seeing now at IU and why former players have not been surprised by the results from this season," Fant said. "I definitely cannot forget the 2015 and 2016 bowl games, those experiences were definitely my two all-time favorites during my time at IU, just the way we got to those games and the experiences we as a team while we were in both New York and San Francisco."
After his playing days with the Hoosiers, Fant was a member of the Chicago Bears before a knee injury sidelined his professional career. Currently, he is a free agent with the hope of returning to the NFL for the 2021 season.
However, should that not happen, he has a plan.
"If I cannot get healthy enough to play football again, I plan on starting my PhD in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies. I have been accepted into two programs already and am waiting to hear back from a few more," Fant said.
The former Indiana Hoosier admits he does continue to keep up with the Hoosiers and enjoyed the 2020 season.
"I still talk with some of the guys that I knew before my time ended, especially the corners and Coach Shelby," Fant added. "As for advice, I would say, for football: Believe in yourself but most of all, put in the work and always have fun because at the end of the day, it is a game and meant to be enjoyed.
"On another note, for life: I would say make sure to find something outside of the game that you love to do because at some point this game will end for us all and it is important to understand that football does not define who you are, it is just what you do."