The Seattle Seahawks have had issues along the offensive line, but nothing puts it in perspective quite like the team’s new starting left tackle, who has never started at the position in his life and hasn’t even started a football game since he was in a youth league.
If George Fant does get the nod for the Seahawks against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8 — as it looks like he will with Bradley Sowell nursing an MCL sprain — it will be his first time starting a football game since he played Pee Wee football as a kid in his hometown of Cincinnati.
Even then, he didn’t play offensive tackle.
“Never,’’ Fant told The Seattle Times in August when asked about his experience at the position. “Never. Never had one [game] in my life.’’
In eighth grade, Fant decided basketball was the route for him, and he landed at Western Kentucky where he played power forward. When he gave football a shot, he only played in a few games on special teams and took some snaps at tight end.
But here he is, one year later, getting ready to protect the Seahawks’ $89.142-million investment, Russell Wilson, who has already been banged up a ton in 2016. In a 6-6 tie with the Arizona Cardinals, Wilson suffered a pectoral injury that limited him in practice, but isn’t expected to keep him from playing.
The Seahawks insist they believe in Fant’s ability to handle the responsibility, even if he’s an undrafted rookie trying to learn something brand new as fast as possible.
"Yeah, he has surprised us from the first day that he stood on the practice field," Pete Carroll told reporters of Fant. "He just physically understood how to do the stuff that we were asking him to do. There was no way we could have anticipated he would jump to it as quickly as he did. We're really excited about him. He's way ahead of the curve in that regard.”
He’s already seen time in four games as a reserve, and stepped in against the Cardinals when Sowell went down. Unsurprisingly, his matchup against Chandler Jones and the Arizona defense didn’t go very well. He earned one of the lowest grades of the week from Pro Football Focus and was credited with allowing one hit, two hurries, and he picked up a holding penalty.
But that should probably be expected when a team throws in a player who hasn’t started a football game since youth leagues.