Jets’ George Fant ‘excited’ to return to left tackle

George Fant has gone from college basketball player to starting NFL left tackle in seven years.

The Jets named Fant their starting left tackle this week, supplanting first-round pick Mekhi Becton at the position. It is remarkable for Fant, who took up football at Western Kentucky after completing his college basketball career there.

“It’s crazy it’s been seven years now,” Fant said Friday.

In the seven years since, he learned to play tackle with the Seahawks, then signed as a free agent with the Jets in 2020. He started at right tackle before replacing an injured Becton at left tackle last year. Fant played so well that the Jets decided to keep him on the left side and move Becton, who was drafted No. 11 overall in 2020, to right tackle.

Head coach Robert Saleh told Fant before camp that the job was his and the Jets would not even stage a training-camp competition.

“It’s a good thing to have a vote of confidence from the team,” the 30-year-old Fant said. “I’m excited to get back out there at left tackle for an exciting season with a lot of young guys. I’m excited to be here.”

George Fant participates in drills at Jets training camp.
Noah K. Murray – NY Post

Saleh first floated the idea of ​​Fant remaining at left tackle shortly after last season. Fant started 14 games at left tackle after Becton was lost to a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. The Jets coaches were so impressed with his play they then started to consider flipping Becton to the right side.

“Consistency,” Saleh said Friday when asked what stood out about Fant. “Trust, to do his job, to protect the quarterback, to get lined up, to get the strain play in and play out. That’s the biggest thing. That’s all you want out of a player. That’s the first thing you want out of your players is trust. He is athletic. He can do a lot of different things, and he can do all the different things that we want him to do. He went out in that left tackle spot and he didn’t give up much in pressure and was good in the run game. So, that’s what opened up the discussion.”

Fant had minor surgery on his knee during the offseason. He missed the spring practices and is easing his way back in now. Fant has sat out team periods this week, but has done everything else.

“That’s day-by-day,” Saleh said regarding when Fant will return fully. “I’m not going to put a number on it. Hopefully sometime next week once we get pads on, start mixing him in there a little bit. He looks good. He’s going through everything. He’s getting treatment. He’s doing basically everything except the team stuff.”

george fant
george fant
Noah K. Murray – NY Post

Fant will need to build chemistry with Laken Tomlinson, the Jets’ new left guard, before the Sept. 11 opener against the Ravens. Fant said they have already bonded while watching film and doing drills in practice. The next step is the duo getting used to playing next to each other.

Fant is entering the final year of the three-year deal he signed with the Jets in 2020. The team and Fant’s representatives have discussed a contract extension, but nothing has happened yet.

“I’m staying out of that,” Fant said. “My job is to play football at a high level and that’s what I’m going to do.”

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