CEDAR FALLS — Daurice Fountain has the gift of gab.
Whether it is on the sidelines, walking on campus or carrying on conversations with just about every position group during practice, Northern Iowa’s senior wide receiver and captain usually has something to say.
“He’s the life of the party,” laughed UNI head coach Mark Farley. “He brings all the energy. He is engaging. He is a good person. He is flamboyant. He is the whole package. You won’t find a better person to hang around.”
CEDAR FALLS — In big moments with the game on the line, coaches want their senior captains to step up and take over.
It figures that Fountain’s chosen course of study is communications. Fountain says when his playing days are over he hopes to get into sports media, travel around talking to athletes and telling their stories.
For now, however, Fountain’s conversations have more of a purpose.
“I’m just trying to keep that vibe going,” said the Madison, Wis., native. “There are a lot of players on the team, and the closer we become as a team the better we will be on the field.
“When I’m talking at practice, I’m keeping that bond going. There are some times in practice when someone is not feeling like practicing, has had a bad day. I try to strike a conversation and make their day.”
Now in his fourth year as a regular for UNI, Fountain is two catches from 100 for his career and is on pace, with eight games left, to propel himself into UNI’s top 10 in receptions. He is 29 short of Chris Nuss and just 31 short of Ken Harvey and Sherrod Howard for eighth.
In three games this year, Fountain has already hauled in a team-best 16 passes for 243 yards and three scores, with all three of his scores coming against Cal Poly. Two weeks ago, he set career highs with eight catches for 138 yards against Southern Utah.
CEDAR FALLS — The game film will probably show some flaws.
Fountain has one other career three-touchdown game. It came a year ago almost to the day against Southern Illinois, which happens to be UNI’s opponent Saturday in Carbondale, Ill., in a 6 p.m. kickoff.
Fountain enters Saturday’s game with 98 catches for 1,363 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Farley said there is a reason why Fountain is having a good season.
“He really took charge of how he prepared for this season,” Farley said. “He has taken a big role of leadership, I’d say he took more ... he took over the game. He wants the football. His practice habits are tremendous. He practices as hard as he does on Monday as he does on Friday.
“When you are younger and if you are not the primary route runner (during practice), you think that is the down to back down and save yourself. Daurice doesn’t. The route he runs at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday is the same route he ran at 5:30 p.m. at Southern Utah.”
With only eight guaranteed games left in his career, Fountain, who is also a multiple time all-Missouri Valley Conference track and field performer who holds the fourth-fastest 60-meter hurdle time in school history (7.99), says being the best he can be on any given day is most important to him.
“As a senior, you don’t know what day is going to be your last so why not go out hard every day,” Fountain said. “I really encourage that to our younger guys. I just work hard because I know from the offensive line to the quarterback to the defense they are doing the same thing. I just try to give it all every day because I know they are willing to do the same for me.”