Once Indiana’s trip to the Foster Farms Bowl is over and the season is through, Rashard Fant will have a decision to make.
Does he stay one more year in Bloomington, take advantage of a graduate school opportunity and use his final season of eligibility?
Or does he try and pursue a career in the NFL?
Fant, a well-regarded redshirt junior cornerback, knows which way he’s leaning, but a final decision isn’t expected until after IU plays Utah in Santa Clara, Calif. on Dec. 28.
“There’s no transferring on this end,” Fant said. “I’m either here or taking the opportunity and pursuing a dream.”
Of course, IU would be served well by his presence next season. During the past two years, Fant has developed into one of the Big Ten’s top cover corners.
He’s second nationally with 17 pass breakups and tied for third with 19 passes defended. Fant also has two interceptions.
CBS Sports considers him the No. 26 available cornerback in the potential 2018 NFL Draft class, though Fant will digest more robust evaluations from league decision makers in the coming weeks.
“(I’ll consider) whatever I hear back from the evaluations, from scouts out there, where they think maybe I can go,” Fant said. “Really, that’s it on the football side. Getting into grad school kind of sums up the academic side and makes it really good and strong because I’d be able to come back and do something I’ve wanted to do since I got here.”
Fant was recently admitted to the Master of Public Affairs degree program at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. It represents a significant personal and academic checkpoint for Fant, who in recent years has found his voice as a leader in Indiana’s program.
Fant obtained his management degree from SPEA in three years, has previously served as a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative for the Big Ten and also works as a Hoosier HEROES peer mentor, which allows him to provide guidance to incoming freshman athletes.
He may be one of the most well-rounded individuals in IU’s locker room, and those experiences have shaped Fant into who he is today and the man he’d like to one day become.
“The only thing I do know for sure is that I would one day love to be a professor,” Fant said. “I’ve had some great professors, especially here at IU and in high school. I’ve had some great ones. So just doing stuff and helping people, not just teaching a math class or something, but a life class and getting to understand peoples backgrounds and their differences. I feel like that’s the only way you learn. I don’t know everybody’s lives. Everybody’s path is different. That just helps us as a generation or a world understand each other.”
This week, Fant is working to understand No. 19 Utah’s passing offense.
Utes junior quarterback Troy Williams passed for 2,579 yards and 15 touchdowns, while completing 53 percent of this throws with seven interceptions during the regular season.
Williams is fifth in the Pac-12 in passing yards, third in yards per completion (13.1) and seventh in total offense (235.4 yards per game).
He’s one of the focuses of Fant, who leans heavily on film preparation in between games.
‘You have so much time to learn the little details,” Fant said. “We didn’t get the win last year (at the Pinstripe Bowl), but I felt, personally, as a corner, I knew 90 percent of the routes that were coming my way. It was so much easier calling out stuff and seeing things. Just taking time to recognize stuff better. You only get a week during the season. Now you get three, four weeks. That’s a lot of time that you can make use of.”
Once that time is up, Fant knows a major decision will be looming.
“I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” he said.