If there is any player to root for this year, make it Robert Foster.
He entered in the 2013 class, just a year after Amari Cooper’s breakout freshman season. By any and all measurables, he was going to be a star: speed, strength, hands, polish. Foster looked to have everything you’d in a wideout.
Something happened along the way...a series of somethings. Here’s an article from last season predicting his breakout
But Foster wasn’t a factor in his first year (he redshirted) and then made just six catches for 44 yards in 2014. They came against Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss and Western Carolina. [Ed. Note: He did see action in 9 games, which is a lot for a reserve WR.]
This time a year ago, in 2015, things started to click. He had six receptions for 125 yards and was named co-MVP of Alabama’s A-Day Game (the final scrimmage of spring practices) and won a starting job alongside ArDarius Stewart.
But, we know what happened. In 2015, as the Tide’s then-leading receiver, Foster was injured in the third game against Ole Miss. He had already tallied 10 grabs for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Foster was still limited after that injury, and in 2016 was fighting other lingering and acute injuries throughout the season. Coupled with Ardarius Stewart’s breakout year and a more limited passing game, and Foster just could not contribute the way he’d like to or that we expected him to. Despite being relegated to a secondary role, he continued to work for and with the team, playing special teams, mop-up duty, and contributing when he was called upon, even if he did not record any stats.
Now, entering his fifth season on campus — after a redshirt year, a year lost to injury, and another one all-but lost to a variety of factors — it is time to again predict the breakthrough for Robert Foster.
By all indications, he is having another great spring. And, probably for the first time in Tuscaloosa, everything seems to have clicked — physically, mentally, with the quarterbacking. He just looks like a different player than at any other point. And you can begin to see all of those superlatives thrown about come to fruition.
Outside of Robert Foster, there could not have been many people happier than Nick Saban for what happened in the Spring game. It began with Jalen Hurts reading man-coverage against Trevon Diggs on the outside. Hurts dropped back in play-action, stepped into the pocket, and then let an absolute beauty go that hit Foster, one of the Tide’s fastest players, in stride. And, there was no hesitation on Foster’s end. The route was clean, the catch was smooth, and he raced down the sidelines to the end zone 65 yards later. He would again victimize the Tide secondary, creating enough separation to get loose for a 50 yard reception down the sideline.
Foster arrived. Foster was back. Foster had never left.
For a guy that works so hard, is a team player, that has put everything together, that has all of the talent to be a real force, you want this for him; you want to think it’s time for fate to do him a good turn. And if Foster just so happens to be a five-year overnight sensation, better late than never.
65 days ‘til Alabama football.