A popular offseason sports topic is how a given player is supposedly in the best shape of his or her career. Sometimes it isn’t actually the case, but sometimes it’s true.
It looks like you can put Seahawks left tackle George Fant in the latter category.
“It has a lot to do with the room he seemed to have spent his entire offseason in, meaning the weight room. Or maybe the kitchen,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk said from Seahawks headquarters Tuesday as they began Organized Team Activities. “He’s huge.”
Fant is among a group of second-year players that enter the 2017 season with big expectations after struggling with injuries and/or inconsistency as rookies. The most notable names are offensive linemen Germain Ifedi and Rees Odhiambo, defensive tackle Jarran Reed, running back C.J. Prosise and tight end Nick Vannett.
710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said OTAs are most beneficial to these “redshirt freshmen” as opposed to the rookies.
“It is the second-year players that really have to take the next step,” Huard said.
Arguably none of the Seahawks’ 2016 rookie class has the chance to alter the franchise more than Fant, who started 10 games on Russell Wilson’s blindside last year after going undrafted out of Western Kentucky. Fant, who is listed as 6-foot-5 and 296 pounds, played college basketball and was learning offensive line on the fly as a rookie. Last year at this time, he wasn’t sure whether he belonged with the O-line group or the tight ends.
There is no question about that now, with Huard comparing Fant’s surging muscular physique to that of former Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, saying: “Fant looks like Guti, like when Guti put on 25 pounds.”
Said Salk: “Fant now looks like Tiger (Woods) after he met with Dr. Galea as opposed to before when he first came up. He’s huge.”
Salk and Huard agreed that getting Fant’s athleticism and speed plus his increased size and understanding of the position as a fixture at left tackle is a “dream scenario.”
“Your left tackle of the future, who was an undrafted rookie free agent, who you’ve got on the cheap for the next couple years – yeah,” Huard said, “if he can solidify that role and feel comfortable.”
Huard noted that although the Seahawks have a relatively young team and core, they rank in the league’s bottom third as far as rookie snap counts, according to Pro Football Focus. Huard said it’s difficult to succeed straight out of college.
“When you’re a rookie, you’re just trying to keep your head above water,” Huard said. “You’re just trying to fit in, you’re just trying to walk that line where you can get a rep and look like you know what you’re doing. And then all of a sudden, Year 2 comes around and you look at the young guys and you realize, man, I have made a ton of strides.”