KU football MVP Countdown: No. 5, Alex Fontana
When the Kansas football team lost its presumed starting center for 2018, Mesa Ribordy, during the offseason due to retirement, it didn’t take much reflection to realize how dire a situation the Jayhawks would face if they didn’t find a worthy replacement.
All one needed to do was recall the two games KU played without Ribordy in 2017. When the center missed back-to-back road games due to injury, the offense fell off a cliff. The Jayhawks only managed 106 yards in a shutout loss at Iowa State, then barely stayed on the right side of zero with a 21-yard showing in another dismal shutout at TCU.
Nothing has been proven as of yet, but KU coaches and players seem to think graduate transfer Alex Fontana, formerly of the University of Houston, is exactly the man they needed at center.
Fourth-year head coach David Beaty said earlier this week Fontana, who started five games for Houston in 2016 before missing 2017 due to injury, won them over with his “tough guy” approach at center.
“Everything starts there, and it's not just the snap,” Beaty said. “That's the most pivotal part, but then that guy, in this day and age you're seeing so many three-down fronts and open sets that that guy, he’s gonna be covered up, so you’ve got to be able to handle a nose, a guy that's 350 pounds, and still get the ball snapped. I mean, I’m not signing up for that job. That's a dirty job, there's no doubt. It's a man's job.”
A 6-foot-2, 300-pound Toronto native, when Fontana’s name comes up during discussions with KU players and coaches, it’s not uncommon for the word “nasty” to follow.
The Jayhawks love what they’ve seen out of their new starting center during practices, workouts and meetings, and they hope he will bring the perfect combination of leadership and ability to change the way the whole offensive line operates on Saturdays this fall.
— Check out the rest of the MVP countdown at Tom Keegan’s Lunch Break blog: Nos. 6-25