ESPN 150 ATH Rashard Fant picks Indiana

Rashard Fant (Fairburn, Ga./Our Lady of Mercy) is hoping to help put a program on the map, just as he has helped his high school emerge as a playoff contender this fall.

The ESPN 150 athlete made the call last night, committing to the Hoosiers.

“I called coach [Brandon] Shelby, he was ecstatic,” Fant said. “It feels great to be 100-percent committed to Indiana. Now I can enjoy the rest of my time in high school and focus on getting ready for college. It felt great knowing I could then tell my parents I am going to have my education paid for, while also doing what I love at the college level. It is something not everyone gets, so I am just blessed and thankful for the opportunity.”

When comparing his options, Fant felt the Hoosiers had everything he was looking for in a program.

“One thing I know about Indiana is that they have great academics,” Fant said. “I want to major in business and accounting, and to get into business school is tough. Indiana really caught my attention and it fit what I needed. I also saw a lot of my high school in the Hoosiers as well. A couple years ago Our Lady of Mercy was not the best, but now we are close to earning our first playoff appearance in the history of the program. I feel like Indiana has the potential to be a great program, especially when you see that four of their losses were by four points or less, including only losing to Ohio State by three points. I feel like they are only missing a few players, and I wanted to be part of building something special.”

Hopefully people can look back at the bowl games and hopefully national championship Indiana competed for and point to the 2013 recruiting class as the one that turned it all around. Most people think of Indiana for their basketball program and not their football team. I say why can’t it be both?”

The Indiana coaching staff built a great relationship with Fant, and Shelby, his recruiter and the Hoosiers' cornerbacks coach, flew down to watch the four-star prospect play before flying back for a game the next morning. Fant has also spoken to Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson several times and plans to again Wednesday night.

“Coach Wilson likes me a lot and what I can do for them on both sides of the ball,” Fant said. “He talked to me about playing some wildcat and also at receiver, but he also knows Coach Shelby wants me to lock down one of their cornerback spot,s too. I can definitely feel the love and support from Indiana.”

Being an undersized player at a small school, Fant has had to work a little harder to accomplish his goals. He did not begin lifting weights until halfway through his sophomore year, when he weighed around 115 pounds. He was initially unable to bench 100 pounds. Even after a standout performance at the Atlanta NFTC this spring, college coaches were split in their opinions of Fant.

“I had coaches tell me this year that they had never heard of my school before finding out about me,” Fant said. “It was hard getting my name out there, but after the Nike Camp people started finding out who I was. Some coaches tell me that since I am 5-10 and a half, the height is not what they are worried about. It is because I am only 155-160 pounds that worries them. Then other colleges say I am a playmaker and they know I have the skills to perform at the next level. They say when I get into college I will be 165 by the time I play my first game, so they are not worried about me being productive or not being able to compete and possibly start as a freshman.”

The debate as to whether or not Fant could grow into a playmaker in college would later affect his recruitment.

“I was close to committing to Kentucky with my friend Deangelo Yancy (Atlanta/Mays) in August, but they had some doubts about me,” Fant said. “Five of the coaches wanted me to commit right then, but there were two that felt I was too small and it was a risk to take me. That was kind of an insult. They had offered me for a reason and felt I could play, so I thought I should take more time and not rush things so much.”

With his recruitment behind him, Fant is ready to prove those doubters wrong at the next level.

“The dreams I have are becoming a reality, and now it is time to start working hard toward my next goal,” Fant said. “With the help of the other commitments, I want to put Indiana football on the map.”

Fant is the 12th commitment for Indiana's 2013 class, and its third from a four-star prospect. As the No. 148 prospect in the country, he is the highest-rated commitment to date for the Hoosiers.