Doc Fenton was born on April 30, 1887 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to Robert Emmett Fenton and Catherine Farr.
After leaving Scranton High School, Fenton began his college football career at St. Michael's College, in Canada, in 1904. At St. Michael's, he played rugby. Fenton later talked about his time at St. Michael's by stating “I got all the fundamentals playing rugby in Toronto. I learned how to kick on the run, and I learned how to operate in an open field.” Fenton earned the reputation of doing everything well with a football.
He later played football at Mansfield State Normal School (now Mansfield University) in Pennsylvania from 1904 to 1906. He started out as an end at Mansfield, but later became a star receiver in 1906, which was the first year of the legal forward pass. Mike Lally was his teammate at both Mansfield and LSU.
One account reads "In Lally and Fenton the University has a pair that can hardly be equaled. In the game Fenton showed that he has lost none of his ability to dodge, his swiftness as a runner, his power as a punter and kicker, and his cool hard work. ... The two work splendidly together."
Fenton was heavily recruited by LSU and Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State University). Fenton ultimately ended up signing with LSU for the 1907 season. Fenton was selected for LSU's All-Time football team in 1935. He was nominated though not selected for an Associated Press All-Time Southeast 1869–1919 era team.