Fall camp for the San Diego State University football program is officially underway, as the Aztecs took the practice field together for the first time on Friday. Among the 111 players on the roster this season is Turlock High alumnus Garret Fountain, who is expected to take on a larger role on the defensive side of the ball.
Fountain is entering his senior year with the Aztecs, and after changing positions from linebacker to defensive end in December, has been named a preseason second-team all-Mountain West selection by Phil Steele Magazine and a third-team pick by Athlon Sports. The 22-year-old was one of three players who spoke to the media on Wednesday.
“I feel now that it's kind of my spot to lead the defense and get the job done,” he said. “I feel pretty confident in taking charge and letting these guys play… We know how physically and mentally tough we are. We know we can get the job done if we all stick together and have that one common goal in mind, and that's win.”
Last year at linebacker, Fountain had 41 total tackles and three sacks, helping the Aztecs achieve a 7–6 overall record and a 5–3 record in the Mountain West – good enough for a second-place conference finish and an appearance in the Hawaii Bowl.
Fountain explained that he has built a bond with his teammates Jonah Tavai, Keyshawn Banks and Justus Tavai while adjusting to his new position under defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix, who head coach Brady Hoke said is “the best coach I've ever coached with.”
“I learned a lot in that defensive line room with Jonah, Keyshawn and Justus coming in last year in December,” Fountain said. “I felt we just had a good bond. I've watched those guys and then I've watched guys like Caden (McDonald) as well when I was behind him at linebacker.”
One of the ways the 6-foot-4 Fountain has prepared to take on the defensive end position is by putting on 30 pounds, pushing his total weight to 260 pounds, according to the team.
“Adam Hall I think is probably as good as strength coaches are in this country,” said Hoke. “The one thing about Adam, he's going to shoot you straight. He's going to push our guys and he's done that, and he likes the competitiveness that he has seen so far.”
Competitiveness is always needed on not only the gridiron, but in all of sports. For Hoke, he needs the level of belief and competitiveness to be at high in order to knock off teams like UCLA and Oregon State, who are each on the 2023 schedule.
“We've been practicing and playing and all have that same mentality of the pressure is on us and we're the underdog and we're going to go out there and fight, fight like heck and hope to win," Fountain said. “Just being able to play those games and be in those situations is a fun task.”
“We came off another bowl season which was great, but we were disappointed with the finish of the season (a 25-23 loss to Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl),” Hoke added. “Obviously, we want to win championships, and we haven't done that since 2016, so we've got a lot of work to do, but I'm excited about what's ahead of us.”
The Aztecs will have all 12 of their regular-season games nationally televised in 2023. The school’s full football schedule for the 2023 season can be found at www.goaztecs.com/sports/football/schedule. The Aztecs open the 2023 campaign at Snapdragon Stadium against the Bobcats of Ohio University on Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. PT in a game set to be broadcast on FS1.