Brandon Foster: Biding his time
Foster has been playing football since second grade, and credits his father, Troy, and uncle, former Pittsburgh Steeler Barry Foster, with being the biggest influences on his football career.
"At the time, my uncle was in the NFL, and I knew it was fun to run around and get to score touchdowns, that's about all I knew," Foster said. "At first when I was young, I was really playing football because I thought it was kind of easy and seeing my uncle in the NFL was motivation."
It was in third grade where Foster first put on burnt orange, his team's colors. Then his high school's alumni colors were also burnt orange, so Foster admits he has been burnt orange his whole life.
"I can definitely say it was my dream to come to Texas," said Foster. "I wasn't a heavily recruited guy, and I knew I wanted to go to Texas, so my dad saved up the money for me to go to (Mack Brown Football) Camp and I was able to show Coach Brown and Coach (Duane) Akina that I was able to play college football.
"They believed in me and they offered me a scholarship," added Foster. "The rest is pretty much history."
While most people might have become frustrated or anxious waiting for their turn in the spotlight, Foster remained patient and committed using the time to learn and develop as a player.
"All of us who have worked with him knew it was just a matter of time before he'd get his chance," said former Longhorn and New York Giants' CB Aaron Ross. "He's been sitting back and waiting patiently for his chance and now he's taking it. I think he'll take advantage of his opportunity and help the Longhorns have a great year."
Foster's hard work seems to be paying off. After only two games, he has posted 16 tackles, two PBU and a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Foster also earned his first career conference honor, Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week, following the key fumble recovery touchdown against TCU. For his career, he has recorded 51 tackles, two TFL, five PBU, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two TDs in 36 career games.
Foster says he appreciates the valuable experiences he gained during the past four years and recognizes the amazing opportunity he had to learn from older defensive backs and current NFL players Ross, Huff, Cedric Griffin, Michael Griffin and Tarell Brown.
"It's just a great honor to even have the opportunity to try and fill their shoes," said Foster. "I learned so much just from watching them, and I'm just going to go out there and try to continue to play up to the very high standard that they set.
"Since Ross and I got here together, I got to see where he started and to see how he finished. He was a great role model, and I'm working to try to do the same thing."
For Ross, the admiration is mutual.
"Brandon's a great player," said Ross. "He has the speed of a big-time sprinter, is really strong, does a great job breaking on the ball and is a great cover guy, too."
Foster also credits Akina with turning him into the player he is today.
"Coach Akina is a great coach and I've learned so much from him," said Foster. "He's always teaching us something new, he coaches us very hard and he's always coaching us for perfection. It's great to have Coach Akina pushing you every day from little things to big things because it really helps your game progress."
Akina, who has been coaching Foster since he was a freshman, recognizes the dedication and hard work he has put in.
"I really think he is developing into an outstanding player mainly because of his confidence level and his desire to be a great player," said Akina.
In addition to his willingness to learn, Akina says Foster's strengths are his speed and overall athletic abilities.
"He's got speed, incredible footwork and burst," said Akina. "He's about as quick of a football player that I've ever coached in 20-plus years. He's got what I can't coach. I can try and coach other things like seeing the game and becoming more physical, but I can't teach them to run faster."
Fellow Longhorn DB Ryan Palmer is also very familiar with Foster's tremendous athletic abilities. Together he and Foster led Bowie High School to a Texas 5A Championship in track and field in 2003.
The two actually grew up, as Foster says, "just two lights from each other." They met in junior high school with Foster in the eighth grade and Palmer in the seventh, and they truly came together in high school as teammates on the track and field team.
"He's a real disciplined player, he's very athletic and he rarely makes mistakes," said Palmer. "He reminds me of Huff because he's a real student of the game. He really likes to study, he watches a lot of film and he's a gym rat, and I respect him a lot for that."
Foster acknowledges his speed, but says he is also hoping that mental aspect of the game will be an additional asset for him this season.
"Coach Akina is a big preacher about seeing the game," explained Foster. "It's not all about how fast you are, it's about how fast you see the game. It's about playing physical and being focused on the mental side of the game."
With two superior performances already under his belt, Foster is undoubtedly right on track.
"I expect him to have a big year," said Akina. "I think he's a potential all-Big 12 performer for us and I think he's going to have an outstanding senior year."