“I felt that I can’t go wrong staying home,” said Foster.
“I’m elated that D.J. is staying home and representing Arizona,” said John Sanders who was Foster’s head coach at Scottsdale Saguaro.
The Sun Devil coaching staff and fans would hardly disagree with either statement.
The 6-feet 185 pound D.J. Foster is ranked by Scout.com as the nation’s 12-best running back. His 60 touchdowns and over 3,000 all-purpose yards netted him the Arizona Republic’s Big Schools Player of the Year, made Foster one of the most coveted 2012 prospects in the Western Region.
“He was a little skinny freshman when he first walked into my office,” Sanders recalled. “But I knew he was special even them. He was very athletic, but I think his work ethic, the way he stayed grounded by his parents…he’s the first in the weight room and the last one out. He worked extra hard on speed training.
“So he’s a special kid athletically and when you put that work ethic with it, it becomes special.”
By his own admission, Foster has been enamored by the Sun Devil program for a while and ever since last summer was on the verge of pledging to ASU a few different times. That decision was delayed for various reasons, most notably the coaching change that took place in Tempe after the end of the 2011 season.
In some ways, the recruiting process between ASU and the local phenom was back at square one, as Foster was getting to know new ASU head coach Todd Graham. The first impression the Sun Devil skipper made was naturally a significant milestone in Foster’s recruiting process.
“I knew everything I needed to know about ASU,” Foster said. “But I needed to start a relationship with the new staff. I had a great talk with him at my school. He didn’t talk about football at first. He talked about God and what a blessing it was to be in this situation and I couldn’t agree more with him.
“I went down a few times to ASU and saw the work ethic of the team. (Offensive coordinator) Coach Norvell showed me some of the (offensive) plays and his excitement got me going. I’m just excited to be part of the program.”
Needless to say that Foster’s decision marks the first new significant commitment Graham has been able to secure in the 2012 class, and Sanders realizes the magnitude of that aspect.
“I think it’s a great compliment to Todd Graham and his staff to be able to come in late and be able to sign D.J. Foster,” Sanders remarked. “I think other players will follow. They have asked him a lot of times (about his decision) and they will follow what D.J. is going to do. It’s a huge compliment to what is really going to happen in the future with coach Graham and his staff.
“They are going to win the state of Arizona, they are going to recruit hard and they are aware of the many people are in the valley. Coach Graham has a great plan and D.J. Foster is a great step in that direction.”
Up until a few ago Foster was also considering USC and Cal. At one point he effectively eliminated the Golden Bears in favor of the Trojans, but recently reversed that decision. Consequently, he had an in-home visit with Cal staff that would make his ultimate decision that much more difficult.
“This was the hardest decision of my life,” Foster acknowledged. “My mom is from Oakland and I have family there. Coach Gould and coach Tedford…I had a great official (visit) up there. I can’t say nothing bad about that program. It’s just that the family and support here kind of put it over everything.”
Sanders could certainly relate to the long decision process Foster was going through, as his deadpanned: “When D.J. doesn’t answer his phone, they call me. And they text me and I’m not really good at texting.
“A of people coveted D.J. because of the kind of kid he is, and not because he’s such a great player. I’m glad he made the decision because now my phone will relax a bit.”
The offensive system Sanders and his staff ran at Saguaro was tailor made for Foster and his production and also played a big part in Foster’s pledge to ASU because of the familiarity factor.
“When we were going through the plays, they were pretty much the same plays that I ran in high school for the last few years,” said Foster of ASU’s new offensive schemes. “I’m just excited to be part of the program and help out.”
ASU redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Eubank, along with ASU and Foster’s best friend running back Danny Clark, attended today’s press conference and the tandem were just another vital piece of Foster’s decision.
“I’ve hung out with him before many a times and I just felt the family (atmosphere),” Foster said of Eubank. “Michael is a cool dude and I have a lot of respect for him. He works hard; he’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve met. It’s a good to know that my quarterback is working just as hard as everyone else and that I have someone I’ll be going into battle with that is working hard too.”
There is little doubt that the level expectations that will place on Foster in the fall would be bigger than any other Sun Devil newcomer. The running back feels that he can be even keel about what lies ahead for him at the next level.
“I’m not expecting anything,” Foster claimed. “I hope they are expecting me to come in and work hard and just compete. That’s all I can do. That’s all I can really worry about. Just help out the team and do everything that is asked of me from the staff.
“I still have some work to finish out school and enjoy the rest of my senior year with my friends and family, just know that I’m staying home. Another cool thing is that I can go ahead and workout at ASU once I sign my letter which is definitely one of the bigger reasons to why I stayed home - to get a head start.”
Foster’s decision could undoubtedly have a positive effect in future recruiting clashes for ASU, especially with local players. Nonetheless, there is a chance that it could also aid the Sun Devils with 2012 local safety Zach Hoffpauir. Foster said that he has already contacted the Peoria Centennial standout about joining him in Tempe.
“Everyone has their own decisions and their own opinions, own situation,” Foster said about the chances of Hoffpauir joining him, “their family has their own opinion too. I hope he stays and not just him, but also a lot of the in-state recruits that can help out a program and put ASU back on the map where it should be.”