2017 Target: Justin Foster

SHELBY, N.C. --- North Carolina was among the first schools to offer Justin Foster, a 2017 linebacker from Crest High School. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has more than reciprocated the interest.

Scouting Report

“No. 1, he’s a rangy guy – he’s 6-3, 6-3 ½,” Crest head coach Mark Barnes said. “… He’s long armed, wide-shouldered, and he’s thin at 205, 210 pounds and can really, really run. He plays well in space and got more and more comfortable as the year went on playing closer to the line-of-scrimmage – that’s what young guys really struggle with. Another thing he really has going for him, his GPA is above a 4.0 right now, so he’s going to be an academic guy as well.

“I’d say he’s a can’t-miss guy. You don’t have many of those. I don’t see any way that when he leaves here he doesn’t have a bright, bright future.”

Prep Career

Crest’s 2014 defense was among the most talented N.C. has seen. It allowed on average of 5.2 points per game and shut out six opponents while the team went undefeated and claimed the NCHSAA 3A title.

Foster earned a starting role on that defense, despite being a sophomore who didn’t play football the previous season.

“He grew as the season went,” Barnes said. “He started out the year maybe a little unsure of what he was doing and what we’re asking him to do. But as the year went on, he became more and more comfortable and a lot more aggressive.”

On the season, Foster compiled 57 tackles (11 solo), including seven for a loss and 2.0 sacks. He also forced a pair of fumbles.


North Carolina extended Foster his second scholarship offer when he attended the Tar Heels’ Junior Day in January.

“They just said they like him a lot, but a lot of people are going to like him a lot before it’s said and done,” Barnes said. “He’s basically one of those guys – I think – that he needs to tell us which schools he’s most interested in, because I can’t imagine anybody not offering him.”

Two weeks prior to receiving the UNC offer, Clemson extended Foster his first offer. He has since added an offer from NC State.

The UNC offer made quite an impact on Foster.

“I like Carolina already,” Foster said. “That’s my favorite school ever since I was a little kid. It means a lot that they offered me this early.

“And then my sister goes to Clemson, so I like Clemson, too. Those two schools were my first two offers and I’m going to keep that in mind.”

Another potential variable in Foster’s recruitment is Tre Harbison, his older teammate who holds nine scholarship offers.

“We’ve talked before about going to the same school or schools in the same area so we can connect and keep in touch with each other,” Foster said. “We haven’t really talked much about it. When we went to [North] Carolina, we talked about if we went to the same school, how cool it would be. We could room together and we’d already know someone.”

During UNC’s Junior Day, Foster spent a lot of time with Seth Littrell, his area recruiter, and met individually with Gene Chizik, the Tar Heels’ newly hired defensive coordinator.

“[Chizik] talked about how they’ve struggled with their defense in the past,” Foster said. “And he said what he really wants is to work with the linebackers a lot, because he said the defensive line and the secondary is fine.

“He said if I were to come there, I would play outside linebacker like I play at Crest right now. He said they need outside linebackers like me that are taller, longer, and can cover a lot of ground.”

Besides UNC, Foster has visited Clemson, NC State, and South Carolina.

Extra Notes

Foster also plays basketball for Crest where he’s averaging 12 points a game this season.

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