football Edit

Foster remains humble despite notoriety

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ATLANTA - On Tuesday, the day Troup (Ga.) junior linebacker Reuben Foster was named a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, he showed up at practice for the Rising Seniors Georgia Junior Bowl and did what he has done a lot in recent years.
With somewhat staggering regularity, Foster, an Alabama commit, shot through gaps and disrupted offensive plays in the backfield, easily shed blocks two at time and chased down running backs.
Nobody could really get a body on Foster and escaping his grasp proved to be darn-near impossible, even though he was practicing with a gimpy ankle.
Foster's teammates marveled at his abilities, his energy, his football smarts, his toughness. But most of all, some said, they were impressed with his attitude.
"You know," Sandy Creek cornerback Shaquille Wiggins said, "Reuben is a very humble guy. He doesn't even think he's the No. 1 linebacker in the nation. He has the mindset that he just wants to be the best player. He's not arrogant at all."
This week in Atlanta, Foster has been the main attraction in event absolutely loaded with talent, and he hasn't disappointed. Playing inside linebacker for the West squad, the 6-feet-2, 228-pounder impressed from the moment he stepped out of the locker room onto the field.
"I want to get better [this week] and enjoy going up against better competition," Foster said.
Foster has ascended to the top portion of his class despite getting a late start. Because his mother was afraid he'd be injured, she refused to let him play until the eighth grade. Today, his brute physicality is thought to be one of his greatest assets.
Asked what stood out with Foster's play, outside linebacker Mario Mathis of Thomasville (Ga.), who has lined up beside Foster all week, quickly replied, "He can hit."
But like Wiggins, Mathis also was impressed - and maybe even a little surprised - by Foster's lack of ego.
"He encourages us," Mathis said. "He ain't a big-headed type of guy."
In 2011, Foster recorded 185 total tackles and 14 sacks. While impressive, he doesn't come across as being content.
"I need to improve coverage wise," he said. "I'm best at down-hill running and stopping the run."
At Troup, Foster said 75 percent of his time was spent playing outside linebacker during his junior season. He thinks that percentage could grow in 2012.
Alabama, however, has recruited him to play inside.
"It really doesn't matter to me," Foster said. "I'll play both.
Foster committed to the Tide in July. He said repeatedly this week that he is firm.
"It's like a family there," Foster said. "The players are good to get along with. You're already coming in knowing the players. I really feel comfortable there."
That said, Foster does plan to check out other schools. He mentioned the possibility of taking trips to Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame and Southern California next year.
Additionally, Foster said he might take in junior day at Cal.
"They want me to go, so I might go out there and see how it is," Foster said. "I want to see more places and stuff."
At this stage, Georgia could be a program to watch, with Auburn and Florida also fighting hard to get into the mix.
"Alabama is still recruiting me hard, but I'd say Georgia is [the hardest]," Foster said. "They could be a threat. They treat me real good. Real nice. [At Auburn], they're talking about family and playing time. The Florida coaches talk nice. They tell me nice things. I'm still basically Alabama, 100 percent. But you never know. It might change."
According to Foster, he visited Alabama approximately 30 times. He added that he has been to Georgia roughly half that many times, which is still a high amount.
"I've been going [on trips] ever since my freshman year," he said.
In Friday night's Georgia Junior Bowl, which is being broadcast on ESPN3.com, Foster will have a chance to show his skills to the nation. Regardless of how he performs, chances are he won't be satisfied.
"I want to show them something to remember my name," Foster said.
Some would say, he already has.
Keith Niebuhr can be reached at Keithrivals@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.