October 15, 2001
DeShaun Is Shining
As we reach the midpoint of the 2001 college football season, the cream is beginning to rise to the top. And nowhere is that more evident than in Pasadena, CA, where UCLA’s DeShaun Foster has established himself as the nation’s best running back.
On Saturday, against a good Washington defense (the Huskies hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this year), Foster rushed for a school record 301 yards and four touchdowns, the last of which, a 92-yard dash, came on Foster’s 31st carry of the afternoon. The 6’2", 215-pound senior beat the Huskies to the corner, shook off a would-be tackler and exploded up the right sideline. Rose Bowl security finally stopped Foster in the tunnel. They would prove to be the only ones capable of doing so all day.
But Foster did more than just run by the Huskies; he also ran over them, once again proving that while his conference may have a soft rep, he certainly does not. On his first score of the day, he hit the corner and knocked two Huskies to the ground, en route to a bruising five-yard touchdown run. He broke numerous tackles throughout the day and proved extremely elusive.
Foster has wonderful field vision and instincts, quick feet and tremendous balance. He also possesses a strong upper body, all of which makes tackling him a chore.
"He’s squirmy. Slippery," Huskie linebacker Zach Tuiasosopo said. "He runs very hard. Pretty much all you can do as a team is wrap him up, hold on and wait for help."
Washington defensive coordinator Tim Hundley said, "He’s the kind of guy you need to tackle waist-high. It’s very difficult to get him by the upper body because he’s so strong. He’s a powerful runner, and also a guy who can slide."
Foster now has the 5-0 Bruins thinking National Championship, and college football observers thinking Heisman. On the year, Foster has rushed for 813 yards and eight touchdowns.
This has been a long time coming for Foster. He’s always been highly-touted, one of those "if he could just put it all together" kind of guys who always seemed to have a nagging injury, or something of that order, holding him back. After an explosive freshman year, a high ankle sprain derailed his 1999 season. Last year, he did rush for 1,037 yards, but missed a game and a half with a broken bone in his hand, which limited his effectiveness. He only tallied four 100-yard rushing days, topping out at 187 against Alabam in their first game. Through five games this year, he’s already matched those four 100-yard days.
Yes, injury’s a concern with Foster, as is his penchant for fumbles. Even during his record setting performance on Saturday, Foster put the ball on the ground twice. But he has excellent hands and is actually an accomplished receiver out of the backfield. Scouts think he’s the next great West Coast back, and he may be zipping up Chris Palmer’s 2002 wishlist.
But first, Foster has more immediate concerns.
"We are shooting for a conference title but also for a national championship," Foster said.
DeShaun Foster Return to The War Room