Happy new year for ASU football: D.J. Foster to return

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                </div>  Todd Graham is a happy coach.  Daryll and Ruth Foster are relieved parents.  And the Arizona State football fans are delirious. The Fosters are glad their son has decided […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Todd Graham is a happy coach.  Daryll and Ruth Foster are relieved parents.  And the Arizona State football fans are delirious.

The Fosters are glad their son has decided to return to ASU for his final year of college, to get the degree they both considered most important.  D.J. Foster quelled fears that he would leave school early to enter the NFL draft with his announcement Tuesday that he would be back in the Sun Devil backfield in 2015 to lead the Sun Devils in their quest to post a third consecutive 10-win season.

And Graham, who just finished his third year as the Sun Devil head coach, can begin planning for next year, knowing his first-ever prized recruit at ASU was going to give him one more season.  Foster was generally considered to be the best high school running back in Arizona when Graham plucked the four-star prospect from Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School in his first year as the Sun Devils’ new head coach.  He secured the Foster commitment just six weeks into the new job.

“When I first came here,” Graham recalled, “it (Foster’s commitment) was the first positive thing.  That was really big for our program, D.J. choosing to be here.”

That acquisition not only gave the new head coach a running back that could make an immediate impact to his rebuilding program, but also confirmed his commitment to recruiting locally.  In addition, it sent a message to other recruits around the country.  Foster could have had his choice of top programs that were offering him scholarships, but he chose ASU.

This year he became the face of the ASU football program after becoming a high-profile part of the program his first two years, posting back-to-back seasons of 1,000 all-purpose yards.  He entered the 2014 season as one of the elite college players that were put on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which honors America’s College Player of the Year.

He didn’t disappoint.  The 5’11” breakaway back ran for 1,081 yards for an average gain of 5.6 yards per play and added another 688 yards in receptions.  He scored nine touchdowns on the ground and three more through the air.

He has piled up 3,949 yards of offense in three years, just over 2,000 of that in carries, and has 28 career touchdowns.

And now he will have yet another year to pad those numbers and likely leave with a fair share of school records.

Foster admits he gave some serious consideration to leaving for the pro game, but decided he wanted to finish what he had started at ASU.  The friends he had made along the way also entered into the decision.

“When you see that (opportunity to play professionally) so close in front of you, it’s hard not to reach out and grab it,” he told those gathered at the press conference.  “At the end of the day, that’s when you got to step back and really lay out your options, and really see in your life what’s important to you.”

His mother says her son has often used that same approach to making major decisions:  “I have a lot of trust and support in D.J.  He is really an intelligent young man.  He sat down and did the pros and cons, which we’ve done before when he decided which college he wanted to go to.  At the end of it, the pros (to returning) outweighed the cons.  Personally, I feel there is a special feeling when you get your degree.”

The relationships built during the college years are often some of the most enduring, and Foster wasn’t quite ready to leave that part of his life behind.  “It is important to be able to finish out with my friends and be seniors with my roommates,” he explained.  “I am trying to enjoy this process as much as I can because a lot of people take it for granted.  I am excited to do all four years here.”

One of his roommates is Mike Bercovici, who is expected to be next season’s starting quarterback.  The bond they have forged by living together will serve them well as both play out their senior seasons.  And both players are planning big things for the coming year.

“I see the hunger and drive in this 2015 team,” says Foster, who is expecting to be moved to a slot receiver next season to take advantage of his versatility, “and I am excited to be a part of it and help lead these guys to all the goals that we have (fallen) short of so far.

“This is the team that has the leadership and edge to it.  I can’t wait to get there and go to work.”

(Photo: ASU Athletics)