Reuben Foster Making Progress

There's a slightly predictable cycle in following Alabama football players. When they are prospects, there is much interest in the recruiting process. Once they become a part of the team, they tend to fall off the radar, in part because Bama practices are closed to the media, but in greater part because the Crimson Tide has built itself into a position where it doesn't have to rely on freshmen.

That doesn't mean freshmen can't be contributors for Alabama's football team. Under Coach Nick Saban, a large number of freshmen have been important to Crimson Tide success. Think Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon on last year's team.

Last February, the Bama recruiting class included six five-star players. Four Tide signees were ranked as the number one players in the nation at their positions.

(The six five-star players are linebacker/defensive end Jonathan Allen, running back Derrick Henry, wide receiver Robert Foster, tight end O.J. Howard, defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, and linebacker Reuben Foster. The four best at their positions are deep snapper Cole Mazza, Howard, Robinson, and Foster.)

Foster was considered the number two prospect in the nation regardless of position.

Reuben Foster is particularly intriguing because of his unusual path to Bama. He committed to Alabama in the summer between his junior and senior high school years, but in that time moved from Georgia to Auburn High School. While at Auburn High he committed to the local college, even tatooing his arm to show his allegiance. As Alabama roared towards its second national championship and third in four years while Auburn was foundering in a 3-9 season, Foster returned to his original choice, signing with Alabama.

Last year as a senior at Auburn High, Foster made 102 tackles, 22 for loss, and six sacks. He was the Alabama Sports Writers Association 6A Lineman of the Year. As a junior at Troup County in Georgia he had 185 tackles, 144 solo, with 34 tackles for loss and 18 sacks.

Foster, 6-1, 244, is projected as an inside linebacker, either middle (where Trey DePriest is the returning starter) or weakside (where All-America C.J. Mosley plays). As such, even with the brief suspension of DePriest, it is reasonable to suspect that Foster's role on the 2013 Alabama football team will be on special teams and/or as a back-up inside linebacker.

In this part of the cycle, we haven't heard much about Reuben Foster.

In Saban's first press briefing since Alabama's Saturday scrimmage, he was asked about Foster's development. Saban said, "He really has made a lot of progress. He got a stinger in his neck, which kept him out a couple days at practice. But I think he made a tremendous amount of progress from the first scrimmage to the second scrimmage and really made a lot of plays in the second scrimmage. So we actually are increasing his reps. We're trying to get his learning curve up to where he's somebody that could be helpful to us this year. So we're really pleased with his progress."

Mosley is a good judge of the position. He said, "He's learning well. The main thing for him -- and for all the freshmen this year -- is be coachable, and try and be fast-thinking on your feet. So a lot of the things he was messing up in camp, you're starting to see him better now in practice. That's a plus for him."

And, perhaps, for Alabama, sooner rather than later.

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