The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

July 25, 2013

Ex-Plainsmen Donnie Fuston excelling at Northeastern

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Junior college is a tricky avenue to travel down for some. In football, it’s often feast or famine.

“It makes you a man,” said Northeastern State linebacker Donnie Fuston. “Coming out of high school, you’re kind of immature, even though you may have thought you were mature for high school. Then, you go to the college world and you’re not as mature as you thought.

“You have to man-up real quick.”

That’s precisely what Fuston did. He explored the junior college route coming out of Enid High School, joining the Golden Norsemen at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

However, unlike most junior college players that spend two years trying to build up their recruiting stock, Fuston bolted the JUCO ranks after one year.

“You’re on their time, but if you stay focused, you can get through it,” Fuston said of playing junior college football. “...I had another year at NEO, but I was ready to leave, I guess.”

He quickly found a home in Tahlequah, playing linebacker for Northeastern State in 2012. The RiverHawks —an NCAA Division II school that plays in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Confernce — finished 4-6 last season, finishing on a four-game winning streak after dropping their first six contests.

And while Fuston was a blip on the RiverHawks’ radar coming out of high school, his time playing junior college football caught the eye of NSU’s coaching staff.

“There are a lot of good players between here and Enid,” NSU head coach Kenny Evans said. “Donnie was someone we liked, but he matured at NEO, which made it easier to want him. So we started recruiting him.”

At NEO, Fuston not only transitioned from high school to college football, he also shifted from cornerback to linebacker. During his freshman campaign with the Norsemen, he racked up 78 tackles (45 solo tackles), one interception, three pass breakups and one forced fumble.

“It was hard,” Fuston said of switching positions. “I feel like corner is easier because you don’t have to learn a lot. I mean, you still have to learn stuff, but at linebacker you have to know everything.”

Luckily for Fuston, the NSU coaches opted to play him in the front seven. He played in all 10 games for the RiverHawks, logging 10 tackles and a half tackle for loss as Langton Jones’ backup at hawk linebacker.

More importantly for Fuston was the knowledge  he gained playing with fellow linebackers, Jones and Jack Gray.

“Me, as a football player, I’m not very patient,” Fuston said. “But Langston and Jack taught me that you have to be patient at linebacker, especially when you can wait on stuff to open up for you. They also taught me the plays and how to understand gaps.”

Both Jones and Gray are back for their senior seasons in 2013. But instead of playing behind the duo, Fuston is hoping to secure the rover position next to Gray, and across the field from Jones.

“I want that spot,” Fuston said. “Me, I don’t know where I’m going to be playing because Coach Evans had me at both rover and hawk during spring practice.”

Fuston — a 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior — was listed as Colton Nevel’s backup in NSU’s projected two-deep roster for 2013. However, there’s plenty of time to settle the position dispute, Evans said.

“There’s definitely a chance (Fuston) takes over (Cayle) Shambaugh’s place,” Evans said, referring to Shambaugh who left the football team to concentrate on his baseball career at NSU.

“Nevel had moved into Shambaugh’s place, but Donnie could move over and battle for a starting spot.”

Even if Fuston doesn’t snag a starting job, there’s little doubt he’ll log ample amounts of playing time in 2013.

“He understands both outside linebacking positions,” Evans said of Fuston. “That gives him a chance to be playing a lot this year.”

The best part about playing rover for Fuston? He executes each play without putting too much thought into what’s going on.

“I played there during the spring, and it just felt natural,” he said. “I wasn’t even thinking about my assignments. Coach Evans said I looked like a natural, and all I was doing was playing.”

Johnson is sports editor at the Tahlequah Daily Press.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Baseballpicture.jpg Majors open regional with Cherry Creek

    The Enid Majors (36-12) enter the Connie Mack South Plains Regional Tournament today at David Allen Memorial Ballpark coming off one of their best seasons in the past few years. Now, the pressure is on as they face Cherry Creek, Colo.,at 8:15 tonight.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ballpark to observe Military Appreciation Night

    David Allen Memorial Ballpark hosts Military Appreciation Night tonight during the 6 and 8:15 games of the Connie Mack South Plains Regional Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rory McIlroy: There's a new tiger in town

    His father introduced him to the game when he was small, putting a golf club in his hand when he was barely past the toddler stage.
    He fell in love with it and worked hard, improving steadily. He became a terrific junior player and quickly improved.
    He was touted as the next big thing and didn’t disappoint.
    Now, at the tender age of 25, he is a multiple major champion.
    Tiger Woods? Yes, once upon a tee time. But now those words are being spoken about Rory McIlroy.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days.jpg Gundy has big plans for Hill

    The picture became a little clearer Monday of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Briles: Baylor swinging for the fences

    Coach Art Briles and Baylor arrived at Big 12 football media days as defending champions for the first time.
    Briles has a slightly different take on the Bears’ newfound standing.

    July 21, 2014

  • Radio-TV for 7-22-14

    July 21, 2014

  • Big12.jpg Big 12 commissioner says 'change is coming' in college sports

    That was the theme of Monday's state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Worrell takes 8th at Firekeeper Classic

    July 20, 2014

  • Fowler happy with runner-up finish

    For ex-Oklahoma State star Rickie Fowler, this is getting downright familiar.
    He’s not complaining.
    For the second time this summer, Fowler played in the final group of a major championship, failed to overcome a big deficit, and settled for the runner-up spot.

    July 20, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days start today

    The new-look Big 12 is ready for some football.  
    OK, the conference’s logo is what’s new this year. There are no changes in the makeup or format of the 10-team league, the only power conference with a round-robin schedule that determines a champion without an extra game.

    July 20, 2014

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos


Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at http://enidnews.smugmug.com.