- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Five star linebacker Reuben Foster, the nation's No. 2 player in the ESPN 150, was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey on Thursday as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
The selection wasn't a surprise, especially to those who saw Foster play against Columbus (Ga.) Carver as a freshman. Foster played the game with a broken arm, but he still managed to make a number of tackles on former Under Armour All-American running back Isaiah Crowell.
"In the middle of my season, my ninth-grade year, when I played Isaiah Crowell, that's when they started saying, 'You have great potential, and you're going to be a great linebacker,'" Foster said. "That was my coming out party. That's when they started calling me 'Freakish freshman.'"
Now it's his turn to go down to St. Petersburg, Fla., and play in the prestigious game on Jan. 4 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.
"Just to know that all of those players have been in the game, it's an honor," Foster said. "I'm amazed just to play. There are a lot of legends that have come out of there, a lot of great players who have come out of the Under Armour All-America Game, and I want to be one of those players. So it's an honor. I'm happy."
Although he's just now beginning to realize his dream, it hasn't been an easy road for Foster.
The Alabama native played the majority of his football career in Georgia before moving back to his home state to play his senior season for Auburn (Ala.) High School. With the move came a change in his commitment status.
Foster, who originally committed to Alabama the summer before his junior year, flipped to Auburn this past summer. The decision caused an uproar within the state and led to a lot of criticism, but the star linebacker has just used that to fuel his fire.
"It's been extra motivation for me because people doubted [Auburn]. They doubted me," Foster said. "When I was with Alabama, people didn't doubt me. But I'm like, 'Why now?' It just gave me courage and motivation to go hard and do good.
"I'm in a good environment. I'm in a good state of mind, and I'm just shooting for my goals. I'm not going down -- I'm going up."
Auburn High School coach Tim Carter has been blown away with Foster's talent and his ability to make the team around him better, but more than anything, he's been impressed with how Foster has handled all of the distractions since the flip.
"Any time you're in the spotlight, you've got to kind of rise above the all the criticism," Carter said. "He's done a good job of that."
Foster's ultimate goal is to reach the NFL one day and get his college degree for his mother and his baby girl. But in the meantime, he has his sights on defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and the No. 1 ranking in the ESPN 150.
"I'm grateful he got the No. 1 spot," Foster said. "He's going to be trying to keep the spot, and I'm going to be trying to take the spot. It's just like we're back and forth, back and forth.
"It's a rivalry with that, but at the same time, it's congratulations. I support him 100 percent with the No. 1 spot. I wouldn't doubt it. He earned it. But I'm trying to earn it, and that's why I'm working hard."
The two will both be down in Florida for the Under Armour All-America Game, and it might be the last chance for Foster to make an impression and take the top spot.
"It's not over yet," he said.
The 6-foot-2, 242-pound linebacker will have another chance to impress the nation on Friday when Auburn High School hosts Montgomery (Ala.) Carver in a matchup that will be televised on ESPNU.