Player Profile: Noah Fant is on his way to earning an elite label

Nov 17, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (87) looks on before the start of a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Fant has remained one of the Denver Broncos’ most consistent offensive weapons since being drafted in 2019.

Fant is a man of many facets. If he weren’t in the NFL, he’d probably be in medical school, continuing the path he started for himself in high school. He’s also the guy who spends his free time volunteering for and donating to the Open Door Mission.

After facing the devastating loss of his mother this past offseason, Fant has remained determined and motivated to play for her and to make a name for himself in this league.

Forging A Path

Fant was born in Omaha, Nebraska.

After playing football on his middle school team, he attended and played football at Omaha South High School. 

During his senior year, he was a member of the University of Nebraska Medical Center High School Alliance, a health sciences enrichment program that provides high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to observe, shadow and work alongside health care professionals and researchers.

“He was very genuine, very smart, very humble,” Heidi Kaschke, director of UNMC’s High School Alliance, said. “And he was always asking questions, always wanting to know more. He had always talked about either the NFL draft or medical school.”

During his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, Fant was chosen to the All-Nebraska Team.

On Aug. 23, 2015, Fant announced on the local radio station, 1620 AM’s “Sharp and Benning in the Morning” that he was committing to the University of Iowa. According to Fant, academics and Iowa’s heavy tight end use were the reasons for his decision.  

During his sophomore season as a Hawkeye, Fant tied the national record for touchdowns by tight ends with 11 and led the country in yards per catch, averaging 16.5. His 11 touchdown receptions set a school record for touchdown catches by a tight end. 

Fant’s play earned him the nickname “The Painter” and Third-Team All-Big Ten honors for the 2017 season. 

There was some controversy during the 2018 season when Fant’s brother, Chris, sent a critical tweet about his perceived notion that his brother wasn’t getting enough playing time.

Fant had to sit down with his head coach and offensive coordinator to discuss the tweet. He told the press, “That’s my older brother. I’m not going to tell him, ‘Hey, take that down.’ That’s the guy I’ve been looking up to my whole life. I don’t think he’s hurting me. I don’t think my family’s hurting me. They only want what’s best for me.”

His 19 career touchdown receptions are the most ever by an Iowa State tight end and rank fourth in school history. His 19 career touchdowns also rank third-best among Big Ten tight ends all-time.

On Nov. 30, 2018, Fant announced that he was forgoing his senior season and declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. 

Hello, NFL

Fant was selected 20th overall by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Broncos acquired the pick after trading down from their 10th overall selection.

Fant made his NFL debut in Week 1 against the then Oakland Raiders. He got his first career touchdown in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Overall, he finished his rookie season with 40 receptions for 562 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.

Fant finished with 673 yards, three touchdowns, and no fumbles in his sophomore season.  

Fant’s mom, Kathy, unexpectantly passed away in early May 2021 from an undisclosed illness. 

Funeral services were held in Fant’s Omaha, Nebraska hometown. Many members of the Broncos organization showed up to show their support. It meant a lot to Fant, who said, “I just happened to be walking outside before it started, and I saw them coming in and it made me tear up. It made me get emotional. It showed me how much they care about me and my family — that it’s not just all business. It means a lot to me.”

There were injury concerns for Fant going into the 2021 season. The team was cautious keeping him out of the final preseason game. Thankfully, he returned for Week 1 against the New York Giants.

In 15 games this season, Fant has 654 yards and four touchdowns, including a five-yard reception in last Sunday’s loss to the Chargers.

He has one more game to build on those numbers but with the way he’s playing, he figures to be putting up solid numbers for the Broncos for years to come.

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