Brandon Foster will tell you, point blank, that he is the Roberto Duran of the Texas secondary: Hands of Stone.
And yet seven games into his senior season, Foster has already used his hands to carry a football the other way for three touchdowns – two with interceptions and one with a fumble recovery. While practices are filled with passes bouncing off his clumsy mits, when it's game time, the 5-9, 185-pounder is a bonafide scoring threat.
And he knows the reason why.
"God," Foster says, dead serious. "God is definitely a Longhorn fan."
In actuality, no one has been able to accurately ascertain whether or not the Lord Almighty is a Texas fan. But God knows Foster is Texas' big-play man this year on the defensive side of the ball.
His first touchdown came against Texas Christian University, when he scooped up a fumble and found the end zone from 20 yards out. Touchdown number two came against Central Florida, when he swiped a pass and ran 33 yards for a score. The third touchdown came last week against Iowa State on a 39-yard interception return.
Foster now holds the Texas record for single-season defensive touchdowns at three.
"If you saw me drop them in practice, you wouldn't understand why I catch them in the game," Foster admits. "My hands aren't that great."
His patience, however, has been more than great. He only became a starter this season, sitting behind three cornerbacks who now play their trade in the National Football League: Tarell Brown, Aaron Ross and Cedric Griffin. Against Arkansas State, in only the second start of his career, he recorded eight tackles and a couple of passes broken up. He added eight more tackles against TCU and had seven more against UCF.
Seven tackles against Kansas State was followed by seven more tackles against Oklahoma. He might not have the best hands on the team, but he's been numbingly consistent in his final year at Texas.
And he's thrilled to have finally helped break the defensive unit out of a 12 quarter turnover drought.
"It's been very frustrating," Foster said of his team's turnover slump. "We've been getting our hands on a lot of balls and just weren't able to take them. We just focused on it more in practice (prior to the Iowa State game), put more emphasis on it."
Baylor runs the same pass-happy offense as Texas Tech, so it's not inconceivable that Foster and his mates will have numerous chances at interceptions and fumble recoveries. And who knows what will happen if Foster gets a chance to score again?
One thing's for certain, though: Foster will not duplicate his "Mini-Deion" celebration following his Iowa State interception return.
"I have to apologize for that," Foster said. "That wasn't very classy of me at all; I was kind of selfish. I had to apologize to my team for that. I'm not proud of that, myself."
He certainly doesn't have to apologize for scoring, though. And you can bet he'll be trying to do just that if he snares another toss in the flat in Waco.
"We've been real hungry to get some turnovers," Foster said. "It's great if you can score on defense, because it definitely helps. It helps team morale. Any time you can score on defense it's great. But we're not looking to score every time we get a turnover."
Foster's success in 2007 was a long time in the making, so he stays humble, Deion celebrations notwithstanding. His time in waiting has given him perspective, patience, appreciation and vigilance. He has precious little time remaining on the football field at Texas, and it's that keen awareness that keeps him ready.
Ready to make a tackle, or break up a pass, and grab a pickoff. Ready to score; ready to win. And just because this week's opponent is Baylor, don't expect Foster to take his foot off the accelerator.
"This is my last go-round, so I should just enjoy every second," Foster says. "They got up on us last year, so we know they have a fighting chance. With so much parity in football as it is this year, it doesn't matter what name it says across your chest, you're going to have to go out there and play football regardless.
"I think the parity brings out the best in every team. Those days of just saying you're ‘so and so' doesn't mean you're going to win."
And because of that, expect Foster to once again prepare thoroughly for the Bears, to watch film and ingest all of the information he needs to succeed. And then on Saturday, maybe the Hands of Stone will find the end zone. Again.
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