Freshman Quarterback Get An Early Start

April 17, 2007

By Erin Hicks
The Daily

Ronnie Fouch isn't spending his senior year of high school skipping class, sleeping in and relaxing the way a typical 17-year-old does.

Instead, he wakes up most mornings at 5 a.m., and from then until 9 p.m., he's going to classes, attending tutoring and going to both a morning and evening football practice.

You see, Fouch may only be 17, but he's already enrolled in the UW as a freshman.

In his first quarter at Washington, he is taking music, English and microeconomics

'Classes aren't too hard,' he said.

But as he prepares for his first round of midterms, Fouch is spending a little extra time in tutoring to be sure he knows his stuff.

Fouch, a Los Angeles native, moved into McCarty Hall March 24 and started attending class spring quarter. He considered going to other schools like Boise State, University Texas at El Paso, University of Nevada or the nearby UC-Berkeley, but for some reason, he said Washington just felt like the best fit.

'It's clean here. There's a lot of good business here -- a lot of good pro teams. The people are nice. ... I really like it,' Fouch said of Seattle.

And the rain isn't even getting to him. Not yet, anyway.

He's always hoped to play college football -- it's in his genes, after all. His grandpa played for the University of Southern California, and his dad played for Arizona State University.

'I've been playing football since I was 9 years old,' Fouch said. 'It's my life; it's what we talk about,' he said of his family's three generations of college football.

It seems like it'd be daunting for a 17-year-old to adjust to a new school, new roommates, new friends, new football team and a new city. But Fouch said he had been preparing for this moment since November, when he got a call from Husky coach Tyrone Willingham ,asking if he'd be willing to graduate high school early to begin training.

Fouch and his parents knew this was an opportunity -- the UW was low on quarterbacks this season, as Johnny Durocher is still recovering from surgery that removed a brain tumor -- and Fouch was ready to take on the challenge, even though it would mean doubling his workload to finish high school a semester early.

'My future is football, so why not get started now?' Fouch said. 'I'll be ahead of all the kids in my class, so why not?'

His mom called the principal of his high school, Redlands East Valley High, and for the next two months, he took a full day of regular class, and then spent two hours at night doing extra independent study courses in order to graduate with the proper number of credits.

He graduated high school in January with a 3.7 GPA.

Fouch credits his mom with instilling in him his strong work ethic.

'My mom always made me get good grades,' he said. 'She wouldn't let me go anywhere until I got my homework done.'

He spent the next two months relaxing and playing basketball for his high school team.

Practice began last week, and Willingham said in a press conference that he's been impressed with Fouch's performance so far. Willingham said that the Husky quarterback position has 'lacked depth,' and the team has high hopes that Fouch might be able to provide just that.

Fouch is competing with walk-on freshman Chandler Clemons for the No. 3 quarterback position. The Huskies had four quarterbacks last season.

The freshman isn't buckling under the pressure, though. A born competitor, Fouch said he likes to be a leader, and wants to be the kind of player his team can rely on.

'I am very focused, and I try to show through my work ethic that I'm working hard,' he said. 'I like to have fun on the field, and that's part of leadership -- trying to make the game fun.'

In his spare time, and he doesn't have much, Fouch likes to play video games and see movies with friends. Luckily, he enjoys playing football and lifting; he says it doesn't feel like work. In fact, he said it calms him down. One thing he's learning about college life is the importance of time management, but he said he's starting to get a schedule and into the swing of things.

'I'm really motivated and focused towards football right now,' Fouch said. 'I'm going to work hard and see what happens.'

Fouch said when he does get tired, he thinks about all the people in his hometown who are rooting for him.

'I have a lot of people back home who are watching me and want me to do good,' he said. 'So I'm working hard for everyone back home.'

So far, the team has welcomed him with open arms, and he's excited for the season to start.

Although he misses his friends and family back home, he knows he made the right decision by coming to UW early, and he's still going to his prom in May with his girlfriend -- he made sure of that.

'The coach and staff have a good thing going here,' he said. 'I just love it up here; it's a fresh new start for me. I'm excited for the next four years of my life.'

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