D.J. Foster’s commit is a big step in ASU football ‘re-birth’

Todd Graham got more than the best high school running back in Arizona when D.J. Foster committed yesterday to play for his Sun Devils.

The new Arizona State head football coach also gained a little credibility by snagging a top four-star prospect that had his choice of schools.

And he further defined his commitment to recruiting in-state talent.

Foster, the Arizona Republic‘s Big Schools Player of the Year and Tribune Player of the Year, will bring game-breaking speed and big-play ability to Graham’s spread offense, possibly as early as next year.

The 6-foot, 185-pound athlete piled up 3,058 rushing yards and added another 250 in pass receptions in his just-completed senior season at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, leading that school to its second consecutive state championship.

He racked up 54 rushing touchdowns, and 10 TDs in a single game.  And the 508 rushing yards in that playoff game against Sunrise Mountain set a state record.

Then he added five reception touchdowns and a defensive score to set another state record with a total of 60 touchdowns.

But the acquisition of Foster, who had reportedly put ASU on a short list with USC and California before deciding on the Devils, also gives ASU fans a boost in their confidence of the recruiting ability of Graham, who has been a controversial hire after bolting from the Pitt program after just one season.

Foster is a legitimate four-star recruit and is ranked by Scout.com as the 12th-best running back in the country.  That kind of ranking makes him attractive to the top programs in the country, including schools like Notre Dame and Auburn, which had made scholarship offers.  It might be easier to list those programs that didn’t make him an offer.

But he chose ASU.

Yes, he ultimately chose to play in Tempe because it also kept him close to home and his family.  But Tucson isn’t that far down the road, and the California schools are just a car ride away for home games.

So the pitch Graham made, in the six short weeks he’s been on the job, needed to be effective.

Foster admitted he had almost committed to ASU when Dennis Erickson was still the head coach, but decided to re-think that idea when Graham came in.  The new coach had to sell himself, his staff, his new offensive system, and his vision for the future of the program to the youngster.

By doing that, the coaching staff has somewhat validated their promise to make in-state talent a top priority.  Graham has divided the local high schools into groups and assigned an assistant coach to each group so that high school coaches who have never had an encounter with an ASU coach are now getting some attention.

And then there’s one other big benefit to Foster’s commitment.  His decision, which comes just days before next week’s National Signing Day, just may influence other top prospects who haven’t made their final decisions yet.

He’s no doubt looking for help in his quest to be a catalyst to begin rebuilding an ASU football program that is four years removed from experiencing a winning season.

That process will take more than the addition of any single recruit.

But it’s a start.

(Photo: Defense Media/ DVIDS)