Commentary

Linebacker Reuben Foster is a big hit

Troup County (LaGrange, Ga.) junior is one of the nation's most feared defenders

Updated: February 3, 2012, 4:01 PM ET
By Mike Grimala | ESPNHS.com

Reuben FosterRadi Nabulsi/ESPN.comTroup County (LaGrange, Ga.) junior linebacker and Alabama commit Reuben Foster earned ESPNHS All-American honors this season after recording 144 solo tackles, 32 tackles for loss and 14 sacks.

According to Reuben Foster, his job description is simple.

"My job is to deliver as many hits as I can," he said. "Stop the run, hit hard and get the W."

The junior linebacker obviously likes to stick to the basics when he's roving the field for Troup County (LaGrange, Ga.). And it's working for him.

The 6-foot-2, 243-pounder had a sensational 2011 season, posting 144 solo tackles and 32 tackles for loss to earn ESPNHS All-American status. The Alabama commit also registered 14 sacks, proving he's one of the nation's most feared all-around defenders.

So how does Foster manage to make so many plays? Troup County coach Charles Flowers says it's basically a matter of turning Foster loose and allowing his instincts to take over.

"He's relentless," Flowers said. "He tries to make every play that's possible. You may block him, but he doesn't stay blocked. He'll keep going after it until he makes something happen. His desire and ability to pursue is just outstanding."

Flowers recounted one play from last season that still stands out in his mind. With Troup County beating an overmatched opponent by three touchdowns just before halftime, Foster blitzed and came after the quarterback.

But a draw play allowed the opposing running back to slip through the line and sprint downfield untouched. Though Foster was caught in the backfield, he turned and chased the ball carrier 50 yards before making a touchdown-saving tackle inside the 10-yard line.

"The runner redirected and ran all the way across the field," Flowers recalled. "An athlete of Reuben's caliber could have loafed on the play and said we're already up big, but he doesn't think like that."

While spectacular plays like that may make the highlight reel, Foster prides himself on doing the little things that help his defense get stops. Some linebackers might try to use superior athleticism to slip around a blocker, but Foster is the type of player who sticks within the defensive scheme and delivers the blow.

"I'm not scared to hit someone," Foster said. "I'm willing to take on blocks head-on and hit the running back. I play downhill, and that's what you have to do. Contact is what I do."

According to Flowers, it's that kind of intensity and drive that college coaches appreciate most when they watch Foster play. Along with his size and speed, that mentality should help his game translate to the NCAA level.

Though he says he's still open to taking visits, Foster has committed to the Crimson Tide and is excited to become a part of the BCS national champion's storied defensive tradition.

"I'm really looking forward to playing for [defensive coordinator Kirby] Smart and [head coach Nick] Saban," Foster said. "In my mind they are the best defensive coaches in the country. They put linebackers in the NFL, which is where I want to go."

Foster still has one more year at Troup County before he has to worry about suiting up for Saban, however, and he plans to make the most of it. Foster is working hard in the offseason to get better and improve any deficiencies in his game.

"I know I have to get better with my coverage," Foster said. "There's a lot of passing in college, so that's one thing I have to focus on."

Flowers wants Foster on the field as often as possible in 2012 and plans on using him on offense, so Foster is also working on his conditioning. For someone who plays the game at top speed on every snap, stamina will be important if Foster is to keep dominating next year.

"I think I can be a lot better than I am now," Foster said. "I just have to play my game, make the reads and follow my instincts."

If only stopping him were so simple.


Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter @ESPNHSGrimala.

Mike Grimala is an associate editor for ESPNHS. Follow him on Twitter at @MGrimalaESPN »