Vols coaches putting full-court press on Justin Foster

Justin Foster is high on the Tennessee wish list at linebacker for the 2017 class. Sign in to read about the Scout four-star prospect after a pair of gameday experiences in Knoxville this fall.

Justin Martin knows what he wants to do after football.

Any college program that plans to steer how down an alternate path will be eliminated from consideration. The Crest (N.C.) High School junior and Scout four-star prospect wants to be an engineer.

With a finger pointed at starting quarterback Joshua Dobbs, coach Butch Jones, linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen and area recruiter Mark Elder consisitently educate Foster on how he can make it work as a productive student-athlete on Rocky Top.

"I want to major in mechanical engineering," Foster told InsideTennessee. "At a lot of the schools, that's kind of a hard major. A lot of schools try to get you to change your major. When you go to visit schools and ask who's in engineering, most of the time it's players that don't get to play as much or they're walk-ons. (Tennessee has) a quarterback who's in engineering. That's a hard thing to do and he's doing pretty good. When I make my decision, if they're going to let me major in what I want to major in. And then the atmosphere there is really great. It's like family up there and very supportive."

The Scout No. 11-rated junior outside linebacker in the nation, whose sister is in her final year as a chemical engineering major at Clemson, gets it done in the classroom, owning a 4.3 grade point average. He has not yet taken the ACT or SAT.

"Growing up I liked to take stuff apart and put it back together and just learning how it worked and stuff," Foster said. "That's where it all came from."

The top-ranked outside linebacker in the Tar Heel State's 2017 class got the gameday experience at Tennessee by unofficially visiting for the Oklahoma and Western Carolina games. Foster gave Neyland Stadium the top atmosphere nod over the Ohio State at Virginia Tech game in Blacksburg in early September.

"I've been to a lot of college games, and I think that was probably one of the loudest atmospheres I've been in," Foster said. "All the fans stayed the whole time throughout the game. It was a great game. It was loud. You could barely hear yourself talk. The crowd was into it. They had the checkerboard, which was really neat. It was just a great atmosphere."

The Big Orange defense held then-No. 19 Oklahoma out of the end zone for the first three quarters before losing 31-24 in double overtime.

"They did pretty good," Foster said of the Vols defense. "It's just hard holding a team that long. They held them as long as they could, and they...mistakes happen. It was a great game. The defense played well. The offense struggled a little bit, but they played really good."

The 'backer sat down with Vols coaches before they kicked off against the Sooners.

"I talked to coach Jones; he was just glad to see that I got down there and everything," Foster said. "He was just telling me that I'd be a great fit there. I talked to coach Thigpen, and we just talked a little bit about my season, about how he thought the game was going to turn out between Tennessee and Oklahoma and all of that. I also talked with Mark Elder. We just talked a little bit and talked about his season at Tennessee and stuff."

Elder got Tennessee's foot in the door with the nation's No. 159-rated talent and communicates with Foster more than others on staff.

"He's a great guy," Foster said of Elder. "We talk on the regular, almost every day. He DM's me on Twitter and we talk. Really I talk to all the coaches, even the head coach. I talk to him a lot too. Every time I call coach, he just goes through the coaching staff and lets me speak with everyone."

With Elder, Jones and Thigpen leading the way, Foster says Tennessee is "coming after me the hardest."

Foster is up to 16 offers with the last two coming from Michigan and Nebraska. Clemson is "coming pretty hard" after the four-star. He visited Clemson to see the Tigers take down Georgia Tech 43-24.

Foster won't release a top 10 until after junior season.

"I plan to commit when I come to the Army All-American game," said Foster, who resides 2 hours, 45 minutes from Knoxville in Shelby, North Carolina. "I'll probably have a top 3 before I fly out there."

The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder brings a set of highly coveted skills to the table.

"I can cover in open field, come off the edge. I can pretty much do it all for a linebacker or a defensive end — either one. I cover a lot of ground for my size and have a lot of speed for my size."


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