Foster meets challenge

Arian Foster saw freshman tailbacks Montario Hardesty and LaMarcus Coker make impressive runs in Tuesday's Tennessee football scrimmage. He learned of head coach Phillip Fulmer's flattering comments about the rookie rushers. Then he went out Wednesday determined to become a better player.

"I'm a competitive guy, so I try to step up to the competition," Foster said following Wednesday's morning workout. "But we are a team and we have a lot of great backs. We encourage each other; it's a friendly competition."

So, after taking note of the nice runs Hardesty and Coker made in the opening scrimmage, Foster quickly put those thoughts out of his mind.

"You can't linger on anything," he said. "You have to have a short-term memory in football. I try not to hold onto anything … just focus on one play at a time."

Asked what he must do to catch the eyes of the coaching staff, Foster replied: "I just need to do what I know I can do best -- play the game of football."

Because of a delay related to the NCAA Clearinghouse, Foster was late joining the Vols as a true freshman last August. As a result, he was behind from Day 1. Now that he's had a full year in the system, however, he feels much more knowledgeable and much more comfortable.

"Last year I was a little shaky learning the system," he admitted. "But I know the system now. I know it real good. That's an advantage to any back, knowing what you're doing."

Although the 6-1, 211-pounder is a physical runner, he says he needs to be "a little more physical." He also admits needing work on his pass protection skills, which he describes as "a little rusty."

The key to performing at his best, Foster believes, is more mental than physical. He says his confidence wavered a little last fall when he was "shook by the speed of the college game. But now my confidence is high. I know I can play at this level."

Maintaining his confidence and concentration is crucial to his quest for playing time this fall.

"You've got to keep your confidence. Never let anybody shake you," Foster said. "The defense is going to try and get in your head, so you've got to keep your confidence and know what you can do on the field."

With Gerald Riggs firmly entrenched as Tennessee's top tailback, Foster is battling fellow redshirt freshman JaKouri Williams, plus junior David Yancey and the two true freshmen, for the backup job. So, what's the key to winning second-team duty?

"Just doing everything right," Foster replied. "Doing what you can to contribute to the team – pass blocking, catching, running the ball, whatever that may be."

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