Brandon Foster: Making his own history
Throughout the 2007 season, when the Texas Longhorns have needed a big play, senior cornerback Brandon Foster has stepped up and delivered.
With a fumble return for a touchdown against TCU and interception return for a touchdown against UCF already under his belt, Foster intercepted a pass against Iowa State in the third quarter on Saturday. Just like the previous two times he got his hands on the ball, he took it all the way back for a touchdown, this time for 39 yards.
It was a milestone for Foster, as it set the Texas record for defensive touchdowns in a single season with three. It also tied 2005 Thorpe Award winner Michael Huff's record for single-season interception returns for touchdowns with two.
The interception was especially important for Texas because forcing turnovers was a focal point of practice leading up to the game.
"It definitely felt good," Foster said on the turnover. "We've been real hungry for some turnovers. We've had our hand on a lot of balls in those two games that we didn't get those turnovers, so it definitely felt good to get those finally, because we focused on it in practice this past week."
Foster's play was the first of three turnovers the defense forced, and co-defensive coordinator Duane Akina echoed Foster's sentiments.
"For the last two weeks, we've worked very hard in practice about being ball conscious," Akina said. "We work hard on that all the time. Anytime you feel like there's a situation we've got to correct we really make it a focus. To the players' credit, they really worked hard at it and there you see the net result."
"We all want turnovers, but there are certain players that have the ability to do it - (Nathan) Vasher, Aaron Ross, Michael Griffin, Michael Huff," Akina described. "Brandon has proven to be one that just naturally has a feel for the game."
For Foster, success has come from emulating what he and the other defensive backs have seen from their predecessors.
"What I learned from A-Ross, Huff and those guys is to let the plays come to you," Foster said. "You're going to make big plays, and when you make those big plays, it's definitely going to help the team. We go in (the defensive backs room) by ourselves sometimes and just look at their old film for motivation. We go look at their old film and see where they started and where they finished.
"That's what the secondary wants to do. Marcus (Griffin) said before the year we should be trendsetters, that just means if we need a play, the secondary should be able to make that play."
Huff, now with the Oakland Raiders, has been very supportive of Foster's success this season.
"I texted (Huff) yesterday and I let him know that I tied the record," Foster said. " He told me, `Go ahead and break it, the record is meant to be broken.'"
That type of connection and tradition among the defensive backs is something Akina tries to keep alive.
"We've got tremendous pride and tradition that has come through that (defensive backs) room in the past couple years, so it would be foolish of us not to continue that," Akina said. "We have a lot of clips on Nathan (Vasher) and Michael Huff and we revisit those and try to learn from some of the great players."
Foster's hard work and emulation of those who have come before him have put him in position to make his own name among the list of outstanding Longhorn defensive backs under Akina, and much to the appreciation of his coach, he has taken advantage of his chance.
"I think that's a tremendous honor," Akina said of Foster's record. "When you've played football here for 114 years, to get your self in that record book really is something special. I'm happy for him because he's worked so hard to get there."