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Football: Fouquier groomed to succeed following father�s side

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, August 17, 2014

UL linebacker Kevin Fouquier (44) reacts to a play during practice last week. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser )

Back in 1999, when Louisiana Tech upset Alabama and Kevin Fouquier was just a little guy, his father – owner of the same name – had him pose for a picture at Legion Field in Birmingham.

He leaned on a goalpost there, just as Bear Bryant would.

Fouquier has had football in focus for as long as he can remember, as family photographic evidence mimicking iconic shots of the late, legendary Alabama coach attest.

So after a 2012 season at UL in which he was redshirted as a freshman and a 2013 season in which he played mostly on special teams, Fouquier was wise enough to listen to his old man.

“Every kid thinks they’re ready to play,” said the elder Kevin Fouquier, an assistant coach on that Louisiana Tech that knocked off the Crimson Tide and later UL’s defensive coordinator under ex-Ragin’ Cajuns coach Rickey Bustle. “But the coaches understand who’s ready and who’s not – so, obviously, it’s a motivation for him, because he never has sat on the bench. It was a humbling experience for him.

“But all it did was light the fire. You know, some kids – they get to where they want to give up or not fight as hard. He takes it the opposite way, and that’s the way he approached it all summer and during the spring.

“He didn’t expect anything, but just to go out there and work hard and let the chips fall where they fall. You know, don’t talk about it. Just go out there and do it,” added Fouquier, now just a proud UL dad. “Like I told him, ‘Let the coaches notice – and if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, they’re gonna notice.’ ”

Current Cajun coaches have.

With two weeks of preseason camp for the 2014 season in the books, Fouquier has held a slight edge over senior Trae Johnson for the Mike linebacker position held previously by current New York Giants undrafted free agent Justin Anderson.

“He’s just now learning to play the game from a defensive standpoint, being physical, attacking the ball carrier, wrapping up, doing all the things you’ve got to do to be an effective linebacker,” UL head coach Mark Hudspeth said of the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder from Comeaux High.

“He has really improved,” Hudspeth added. “He is starting to take ownership in that Mike position, being the call guy.”

The way Hudspeth sees it, Fouquier is working with two potential advantages.

One is an arguably mixed blessing.

“He was a quarterback in high school, and we’ve got him playing middle linebacker,” Hudspeth said. “To me, I don’t know if that just happens overnight.

“So he’s become bigger and stronger, and his body has gotten more developed to be a linebacker. And he’s gotten more confidence.”

The other?

“He’s always been around the game,” Hudspeth said. “I think that’s a big advantage for him.”


After leaving Louisiana Tech in ’99, the elder Fouquier was defensive coordinator at Central Arkansas in 2000, worked as an assistant for five seasons at Middle Tennessee after that and spent the 2006 season at FIU before joining Bustle’s staff in 2007.

Wherever he went, younger Kevin was along for the ride.

“I would bring him up to the offices at all the places I coached in,” Fouquier said. “He would watch film with us, while we were watching it. It was a chance to be around us.

“He … grew up around college kids that would come to the house. Even at a young age, he thought he was of ’em, you know?”

When the Fouquiers and current Georgia Tech linebackers coach Andy McCollum both were at Middle Tennessee, the older Fouquier would train his own son and McCollum’s son Drew by having them run hills and up stadium steps – just like ‘real players.’

“So the kid, he was self-motivated to have a great work ethic,” Fouquier said.

“Ever since he was 8, 9 years old, that’s all he wanted to be was a Division I athlete. He thought he was gonna be a quarterback.”

Little did he know.


Fouquier did play quarterback at Comeaux, and some colleges even recruited him as a QB. Both he and his father feel the experience is helping tremendously now.

It was then, younger Kevin said, that he “got used to getting everybody lined up.”

At quarterback, Fouquier had to know protections and read coverage. Now, he must recognize formations, route combinations and pass patterns.

“Really,” he said, “I just switched sides of the ball. It’s the same thing I did at quarterback. I’m just doing it on defense.”

Building that base made transitioning easier, as a coach he once posed like firmly believed.

“Coach Bryant would always sign 10 or 12 quarterbacks, and maybe one or two of them would play quarterback,” the elder Fouquier said. “The other ones would play other positions – tight ends, linebackers, DBs (defensive backs). Because (quarterbacks) usually are your smarter kids that can grasp things and see things.

“He’s a smart kid, and it shows in the classroom. He had a 3.7, almost a 3.8, GPA, majoring in pre-law. The kid got all that from his Momma (Christine) – because I’m nowhere near that.”


By his senior season at Comeaux, where he also played free safety, Fouquier sensed he’d play on defense in college.

It was during those high school years that father-son time waned a bit, with both so focused on tasks at hand.

Still, football has always tied the two.

“I’d have my stuff to do, and he had his stuff to do,” younger Fouquier said. “I’d barely see him.

“But growing up, I remember since I was in sixth grade he had me up here every day in the summer working out, breaking down film with him.

“So I’m used to the environment, and once I got (to UL) it wasn’t a real culture shock to me,” he added. “I knew what I had to do, and I had to get to work at it. I had to get in the playbook, I had to get in the film room. So he laid out the blueprint for me, I guess you could say – and I just had to follow it.”


Now he is.

But Fouquier is following some other well-laid footprints as well, including that of their top tackler for two seasons running.

“Justin Anderson was a great person to watch and learn from – the way he handled the defense, and orchestrated it,” he said. “Everything ran through him. It’s what I try to embody – his work ethic and film study. … He taught me the way. So I’m just trying to carry that on.”

Prior to that, Lance Kelley held down UL’s Mike linebacker spot.

“And Grant Fleming before that,” Fouquier said.

It’s a line past Cajuns respected, and one Fouquier hopes current Cajuns will too.

“Every day, we knew who to look to as a defense,” he said. “We knew who our guy was. We knew who to feed off of – and that was Grant Fleming, Lance Kelley, Justin Anderson.

“They were what got the defense going. They got everybody lined up. … That’s what you’ve got to do at middle linebacker.”

It’s what he’s working on.

And as just a redshirt sophomore now, he’s happy his current defense is quite a cooperative band.

“They make it easy for me,” Fouquier said. “The defensive line is a veteran group, and they clear up everything up front for me. We’ve got a veteran group in the secondary, so it’s very easy to relay calls to them. So it’s really perfect timing for me.”

All Fouquier must do is say where to go.

“If the guys see you making plays (and) knowing all your stuff, and being able to line everybody up, they have confidence in you,” he said. “If they see you messing up, they won’t.”

So just orchestrate.

“Really, that’s all it takes,” Fouquier said. “They don’t care about your age. They want somebody that can get them lined up and get ’em going, and if you can do that they’ll trust you.”


There’s another key to it, however. It involves working well with the defensive coordinator.

The elder Fouquier has first-hand knowledge of that.

“Him and (UL defensive coordinator James Willis) have to be on the same page,” he said.

Ultimately Willis, who also coaches inside linebackers, and Hudspeth will determine Anderson’s long-term successor.

Fouquier’s father has an obvious rooting interest, but knows nothing can be taken for granted.

“We’ll see,” he said. “The jury’s still out on it.”

The Cajuns had a coordinator change between Fouquier’s true-freshman and redshirt-freshman seasons.

But after a year in Willis’ system and a lifetime around a certain someone else, Fouquier hopes to sway the verdict his way.

“No doubt it was Xs and Os. It was learning the scheme, for sure,” he said of those pre-teen film room days with Dad. “Because once you learn the scheme, you don’t have to think. And if you don’t have to think, you can play faster. You just react. If you don’t hesitate, you just react – because you know.

“That’s probably the main difference for me from last year. I was thinking too much last year. This year, I’m just able to play because I’m comfortable with the scheme.”