From Purple to Red: Mr. Kentucky Football stays home with WKU

Bowling Green High School senior wide receiver Nacarius Fant sidesteps a tackle attempt made by Pulaski County High School sophomore wide receiver George Gregory during the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state championship 5A football game held at WKU on Dec. 8. (Kayla Grorud/HERALD)

Elliott Pratt

Nacarius Fant has always either been too small or too slow. He’s never been good enough or quick enough make it to the next level. But don’t tell that to the three-time 5A state champion and 2013 Kentucky Mr. Football wide receiver from Bowling Green High School. He’ll simply prove you wrong.

“I love that stuff,” Fant said about those who doubt his talents. “They tell me I can’t do anything, and that’s what’s pushed me this far. I’m a person that likes to prove people wrong. I feel like what I’ve done previously and me working hard for the future is hopefully going to have people not saying stuff like that, but it’s going to happen.”

The 5-foot-9, 170 pound receiver has been living his entire career to prove naysayers wrong. He holds every single-game, single-season and career receiving record at Bowling Green High School, and is in the top-20 of his class in eight individual categories in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association record books.

He is one of two players coming out of high school to WKU rated a three-star athlete by, and 247Sports calls him the seventh best player in Kentucky. The honors and awards go on and on with an endless number of top-ranked colleges calling his name. Fant made his verbal decision to attend WKU back in June, and said the moment was a dream come true when the ink met the paper Wednesday on National Signing Day.

“It’s a moment I’ve been waiting on for a while, and it’s finally here,” Fant said. “It’s only going up from here. I’ve been blessed to have all these wonderful people here to support me throughout all my success and I look forward to going over there. It’s a great coaching staff. I’m looking forward to playing under them.”

Fant said his recent official visit to WKU showed that he could see time as a punt returner on top of playing as a slot receiver. Coach Jeff Brohm saw him as a natural, all-around athlete. The coach also noted Fant as an anchor for the recruits that chose to stay at WKU for the entire time.

“I’ve kept in contact with all our recruits throughout the process and he’s been committed to us the whole time,” Brohm said. “He’s just a great kid. The fact that he was able to win Mr. Football as a receiver — I think is hard to do and he did it. I’ve been able to watch him practice and do a lot of things and he’s just a natural.”

Fant’s size may have swayed some critics the wrong way, but his family has seen his gift his entire life.

“Even as a child, he didn’t look at cartoons,” his grandmother, Stephanie Fant, said. “He would be at my house at two years old and say, ‘Nana, you can take that team and I can take this team.’ I just have to recognize that God is good because he blessed me with a grandchild that was born with a gift.”

Fant could have gone to many other places besides WKU. The first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press could have gone to multiple schools in the Big-10 and Southeastern Conference. But staying close to home to his family was the most important thing for Fant.

“I wanted to stay loyal to my city,” Fant said. “I feel like de-committing from Western is a bad thing and I’m not a guy that does that. It was all about the coaching staff and staying at home and keeping the support I have.”

Fant is one of the 10 players from Kentucky to join the 2014 WKU football team in its first year into Conference USA. Fant has been a vocal member of this class through social media and anywhere else he goes as an advocate for making WKU the place to be on the football field – a place he calls home.

“There’s a lot of good athletes in the state of Kentucky that are coming to Western Kentucky,” Fant said. “They might not be five-star players, but they’re players that we need. I think Coach Brohm and the coaching staff have done a good job of getting those players here and I’m looking forward to that next year.”