Monday, August 11, 2008

Dolphins add AFL pass rusher

With linebackers Joey Porter, Kelvin Smith and Charlie Anderson all nursing injuries following the team's preseason opener, the Dolphins used their open roster spot on a pass-rushing linebacker from the Arena Football League by signing Maurice Fountain of the Utah Blaze to a contract. Fountain is the second AFL player signed by the Dolphins in the past month, following Dallas Desperados wideout Anthony Armstrong who was added on July 26.

Background

A college defensive end, the 25-year-old Fountain was a four-year letterman at Clemson from 2001-2004. (In case you're wondering, Dolphins second-rounder Phillip Merling didn't arrive at Clemson until 2005, so the two never played together.) I'd love to tell you about his senior college statistics, but I was unable to find them because the Clemson's website 2004 statistics PDF wasn't working. You can see his bio through 2003 here. He clearly wasn't a real standout through his junior season.

I've also been unable to find out what he was up to from 2005-2006 after his college career ended. Maybe he was recovering from a college injury, or maybe he simply wasn't viewed as a professional prospect. Whatever it was, he didn't play professional football in the two years following his tenure at Clemson, unless it was a very minor indoor league or something to that effect.

In 2007, Fountain signed with the Manchester Wolves of af2 (the Arena football's "minor league"). That season he recorded 29.5 tackles, a franchise-record 13 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and four passes defensed.

Fountain was then signed by the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League in 2008. He recorded recorded 13 tackles (10 solo), four sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two passes defensed on the year. For his efforts he was named to the AFL All-Rookie Team.

Analysis

Fountain's only real production at the professional level was in af2 in 2007, which doesn't make him much of an NFL prospect. The fact it's taken him this long to get here probably isn't a good sign and while it is true that some guys can come out of nowhere those instances are few and far between. He's a prototypical 3-4 linebacker (a college football defensive end and measuring in at around 6-4 and 270 lb.) so he fits the scheme, but the college and pro production to this point really isn't there. He's a long shot to make the team even with all the injuries and is probably nothing more than a camp body. He's likely still under contract with the Blaze (when signed by an NFL team, AFL players go to the other league/exempt list) and would probably return to them if cut by Miami.

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