Football has taken Justin Fuente to Norman, Okla.; Murray, Ky.; Normal, Ill.; Fort Worth, Texas; and, more recently, to Memphis, Tenn. But his roots are in Tulsa, where he was a star quarterback for Union High School under Bill Blankenship, now head coach at The University of Tulsa.
Fuente set records for the
University of Oklahoma and Murray State University before playing in the Arena Football League. He then embarked on a coaching career and is now in his third year as head coach at the University of Memphis.
How did your time in Tulsa help mold you as a coach and person? Obviously, I was lucky. I had a really stable and healthy family situation. I went to Union schools my entire life. I really had the benefit of getting to be around some great coaches. I just had a really great experience, both athletically and academically, going to those schools. I was able to be around some really high-quality people who I think helped — along with my parents, — shape the direction I took.
What roles have Blankenship and other coaches played in your life? Blankenship just had a tremendous impact on me. We are still close and talk regularly about our respective jobs. At OU, my position coach was a guy named Dick Winder. He was a fantastic football coach and person to be around. When I got to TCU (under Gary Patterson), I learned so much about the program. I just tried to soak in every single thing. I try to incorporate as much as I can now that I run my own program.
Do you feel you’ve made some good strides in your first two years at Memphis? Yeah, I think so. We took over an unhealthy situation. We’ve had the fortune to have some great kids here who have bought into what we’re doing and work extremely hard. We’re still teaching every day what it is to be a team. All the characteristics great programs have, we’re still pounding that into them on a daily basis, but I’ve seen the progress.
What do you miss most about Tulsa? Well, obviously first of all, my family. My sister and her family live in the house that we lived in when we were going to high school. My parents are in Broken Arrow. A bunch of people I went to school with still live there.
I have some favorite spots. I like the Coney I-Lander. I miss that place, but the first thing that probably comes to my mind is the people. tþ
1995: Redshirted as true freshman with Sooners.
1996: Set OU freshman record with 11 touchdown passes.
Started several games for Sooners his freshman and sophomore years.
Transferred to Murray State University after 1997 season.
Set 11 school records
with the Racers.
1999: Named Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year; finalist for Walter Payton Award.
2000-01: Played professionally for the Arena Football League’s
2001-06: Illinois State
University quarterbacks coach, then offensive coordinator.
2007: Texas Christian
University running backs coach.
2009-11: TCU’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Under his direction, the Horned Frogs’ offense posted record-setting numbers.
Helped develop TCU
quarterback Andy Dalton,
now the starter for the
2011: Named head coach at the University of Memphis.