Foster ready for the next step

If there's anyone in college football that can claim to be a Stakhanovite, it's Mason Foster. Rated a two-star, under-the-radar prospect from Seaside, Calif. - not known for producing football talent - all Foster did in his four years at Washington was put himself in the Husky record books alongside defensive royalty - Michael Jackson, David Rill, Joe Kelly, Tim Meamber, and others.

Akin to Aleksei Stakhanov mining 102 tons of coal in less than six hours in 1935, Foster mined the coal, carried the water, and did anything else Steve Sarkisian and the UW staff asked. He consistently overachieved on the job, going way beyond the call of duty when it comes to racking up ball-carriers. His 366 total tackles put him in the top-10 all-time at Washington, still over 200 short of greats like Jackson and Rill. But his 232 unassisted tackles puts him in the top-four. The craziest part of both those statistics? Foster is the first Husky tackler in nearly 25 years to add his name to the career list.

He is also the first UW linebacker in 13 years to be named an All-American; Jason Chorak was named an All-America team in 1996 and 1997. His productivity at the position is something UW fans may not see for some time. He averaged 7.5 tackles in a career that spanned 50 games, and nearly 10 tackles a game his final three years at Montlake.

After celebrating a satisfying Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska in December, Foster went home for two days. In true Stakhanovite fashion, he gave himself 48 hours to relax, and then was on a plane straight to Los Angeles to train for the Senior Bowl at Athletes Performance.

"Mason Foster, the LB from Washington, is gonna be a guy that's gonna have a long career," Travelle Gaines, Director of Elite Athlete Development at API told Eric Samulski of Optimum Scouting when asked about players that are going to surprise people at the next level. "He's tough, he's fast and he studies football."

After a week of competing with the best players in the country at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., it was back to California for more training in preparation for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, then back to Seattle to train with Washington Strength and Conditioning Coach Ivan Lewis for his UW Pro Day, to be held Wednesday.

"They said they loved the way I practiced and the way I came out and competed," Foster told Tuesday about his Senior Bowl experience. "They felt like I definitely opened some eyes out there. It was good playing against those guys you always see on TV, but at the same time I felt like I was just as good as anybody out there. I wanted to show my skill set in front of all the coaches and GM's out there."

"This past week, we saw a lot of what we saw in his career at Washington,"'s Rob Rang told's Scott Eklund after seeing Foster at the Senior Bowl. "He's not very physical, but he uses his hands really well and that's what allows him to get off blocks and make plays. The problem is, he's not very physical and in the NFL, to play middle linebacker, you have to be more physical than he is. His ultimate draft position will be determined by how well he runs. I don't think he's an outside linebacker, so he'll need to find a spot at middle linebacker in a 4-3, but the problem is there are only a handful of teams running a true 4-3 right now.

"I just don't see him being able to hold up inside and that will probably cause him to fall. I see him as a late 3rd round guy. Now, if he runs well, and teams feel like he can play outside, then you could see him climb up into the late 2nd round. His productivity is unquestioned. You can't do what he's done the past few years and not be a great player. So it will all come down to how he runs."

After his combine workout, Foster started to get an idea as to where he might be drafted. At this point, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound pro hopeful is expecting to hear his name called somewhere between the second and fourth round. "I'm just going to keep working hard, and just keep progressing until April 28th," he said.

Foster tested well in Indy; he ran a 4.75 40, 4.45 in the 20-yard shuttle, benched 225 pounds 22 times. But as he found out, it's more about the tests they do between your ears that count.

"For the most part, they want intelligent guys," he said of his interaction with the NFL scouts, coaches and general managers. "They want intelligent, good people. It's not about being the most athletic; you really have to understand the system and be open to learning, be a quick learner. They know everything about you; they've watched you on film, they know everything. They just want to see if you're going to lie or tell the truth, get to know you as a person. They are investing a lot of money in you."

Mason has put in the leg work; now it's just a matter of showing the scouts one more time what they want to see and put a bow on this draft process. He'll get his chance, along with former UW teammate Jake Locker, Nate Williams, Victor Aiyewa, Ryan Tolar, and other Husky seniors Wednesday morning. Their Pro Day can be seen live via ESPN3.

"I want to do better on my 5-10-5 (T-Test), show my lateral quickness," Foster said about his Wednesday ambitions. "On film you can tell I'm a great athlete, but I just want to go out there and compete and have fun in front of these coaches on a big day." Top Stories