When Justin Foster came back to Tennessee for an unofficial visit on Saturday, he spent just as much time focusing on his potential future classroom as he did his potential future football home. The Scout four-star outside linebacker from North Carolina used his trip to Knoxville to explore campus and also get a feel for what could be his future academic home.
"We kind of just went through (campus)," Foster said. "I went to the engineering building because the big with me committing to a school is majoring in engineering and balancing football. We came back and they set up an engineering tour for me."
Luckily for Foster, he's got a living example of what life could be like balancing an engineering degree and SEC football by watching Tennessee starting quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The rising senior and aerospace engineering major serves as the model for student-athletes and for recruits who want to emulate that lifestyle.
"The thing you look at it is, he's a starting quarterback and he can do aerospace engineering," Foster said. "They make time and are able to balance. Almost anything you major in is going to be hard, but time management is a big thing. If the quarterback can do it, I can do it, because they're going to balance your schedule for you so you're going to have enough time and everything."
Foster also took the opportunity to visit with new Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who recruited the No. 1-ranked outside linebacker in the Tar Heel State when he was with Penn State.
"I had spoke to him a couple of times when he was at Penn State," Foster said. "He kind of went off the grid for a little while and he ended up here. This was my first time meeting him face-to-face and it went good. They were just saying where I would fit in their defense and stuff."
Shoop detailed where Foster fits in the Vols' defensive scheme, showing the Scout300 member how he would be a versatile piece to the defense's puzzle if he chose Tennessee.
"He says kind of middle linebacker on first and second down," Foster said. "Third down he wants to use me off the edge to blitz the quarterback. It doesn't really matter to me as long as I'm roaming around at other positions and not just stuck at middle linebacker and that's all I do."
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound rising senior said he's open to all schools who have offered and wants to narrow down his list to eight schools before the start of high school football season. If he makes his decision by August 1, the Crest Senior High School star said he will plan on enrolling early. Foster has future visits planned to Georgia, Stanford and Virginia to go along with another trip to Tennessee — a school he said will "probably" make his top eight.
"I'll be back to visit some more before I start narrowing it down more and more," Foster said. "It's a family environment. All the coaches are laid back and cool. Coach (Larry) Scott, as soon as we got here, he talked with me and introduced himself ... He's been talking with me and it's a good relationship. Me and coach (Butch) Jones talk on the regular. Everything is going pretty good. It's a good environment and I like the area up here."
Managing editor Danny Parker contributed to this story.