By now everyone in the NFL knows that Houston Texans RB Arian Foster is back! If not, then it is time for you to climb out from under your rock and smell the turf. In this week’s Player Highlight of the Week I will be looking at the man, the scholar, and the player that is called Arian Foster.
Born in August of 1986, to Carl and Bernadette Foster, Arian’s football career started off with a rocky start. While playing football at Valley High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico Foster was told that he was, and never would be, good enough to play running back. After his parents divorced he moved to San Diego, California to live with his father.
At Mission Bay Sr. High School Arian began playing at the linebacker position. It was during his senior year that he switched positions and took over the role of running back. From there his passion for football, and his play-making ability, began to flourish. He became the school’s featured running back and accumulated 2,093 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns with an additional six touchdowns on kickoff returns. By the end of the season he was named All-San Diego Western League Player of the Year, received All-West Region appointment by PrepStar and also earned All-California Interscholastic Federation honors.
After Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders (1984-2005) visited San Diego, and was impressed by Arian’s play, Foster signed with the 2004 freshman class at the University of Tennessee (Volunteers).
After red-shirting his freshman year Arian became the Volunteers starting running back. Perhaps the greatest performance of his freshman year, when he received play time when the starter was injured, was Arian’s 223-yard performance against Vanderbilt. Arian scored two touchdowns in that game and had 268 all-purpose yards which was the third best in school history.
Foster’s sophomore season was nowhere nearly as glamorous. After returning from an injury, and missing most of the season, Foster finished with only 322 rushing yards. Perhaps the greatest downfall for Foster, in his sophomore year, was in the 2007 Outback Bowl against Penn State. With 10 minutes remaining in the game, and the game tied 10 – 10, the Volunteers had the ball deep in Penn State territory. Foster lost the ball on a fumble and the ball was recovered by Penn State and returned 88 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
However, his junior season brought with it the chance of taking over the starting role as running back for the Volunteers. By the end of his junior year, and after a stellar season, Foster considered dropping out of college in order to be eligible for the NFL draft. His coach, Phillip Fulmer, convinced Foster to stay for another season – a decision which would cost Foster dearly.
In his senior year Foster rotated through the running back position and finished with only 570 rushing yards and a single touchdown. Foster’s draft stock plummeted as NFL scouts began to doubt his ability to be an effective back in the NFL. Scouts also voiced concerns about his ability to pass-block, his issue with ball control, and a selfish attitude that made him hard to coach. A pulled hamstring prevented him from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine then he had a poor showing at Tennessee’s Pro Day when he registered a 4.71 40-yard dash, 4.50 short shuttle, 32-inch vertical leap and 9’7″ broad jump.
Undrafted in 2009, Foster’s outlook for the NFL was growing very dim. However, one team decided to take a chance on him – the Houston Texans. The Texans were able to look beyond the scouting report and recognize the talent that Foster had. His finish at Tennessee as the second all-time leading rusher played into the Texans choice to sign him to their roster.
On May 1, 2009, Arian Foster signed with the Houston Texans. Only four short months later he was released by the team but then signed to the practice squad. In November of that same year Foster was again signed to the team and placed on the roster. Ironically, Foster’s NFL debut was against the Tennessee Titans on November 23, 2009 where he played on special teams. A little more than a month later, December 27, Arian scored his first NFL touchdown on a 17-yard rush against the Miami Dolphins.
On January 3, 2010 Foster made his first start in the NFL. Coming in as the running back for the Texans he put up 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots. Arian Foster had now introduced himself to the NFL.
On September 12, 2010 (opening day of the NFL), Foster replaced former Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton as the starter…he then went on to break multiple franchise records. In the team’s game against the Indianapolis Colts he rushed for 233 yards and added three touchdowns to boot. In addition to breaking the record for the most rushing yards by a player of the Houston Texans in a single game he also posted the second-highest NFL opening day rushing total.
Less than a month later, while playing against the Oakland Raiders, Foster set another franchise record when he rushed for a team long 74-yard touchdown.
Arian finished the 2010 season as the NFL’s leading rusher. He had accumulated 1,616 Rushing yards and 604 receiving yards breaking the record set by Priest Holmes for most yards from scrimmage ever by an undrafted player. His stellar performance was recognized by his invitation to the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl.
During the preseason of this year Arian injured his hamstring – twice. He played on-and-off for the first three games of the season, making his debut last week against Pittsburgh. Once again Arian played like Arian, racking up 155 yards and a TD which lifted the Texans over the Steelers. His 42-yard touchdown in this game was the longest touchdown allowed by the Steelers since 2006.
Beyond the Field
Arian’s name means “holder of knowledge” and any person who has spoken with him will know that his name rings true to who he is. Majoring in philosophy while at Tennessee, Foster has adopted a universal knowledge which he embraces in every game with his “Namaste” (The spirit in me respects the spirit in you) bow after every touchdown.
His proliferation of the human spirit and language is exuded in every conversation that he has. He is not one to tout his knowledge but you can almost feel its ebb-and-flow guiding you through a conversation.
Foster also has a love of poetry. The words that he writes are reflective of the inner human spirit and, more importantly, of Arian’s personal experiences. Both his love of knowledge and his aptitude for poetry were captured in the video Poetry in Motion.
The Sage Continues
Foster continues to impress both on and off the field. While he has proven controversial with some of his tweets (MRI images, fantasy football) he continues to put controversy behind him when he steps on the field.
Foster’s return to the Texans this week was a vast improvement for the team. His fluid movement, one-cut running, and constant momentum make him one of the best rushers in the NFL. His ability to pass-block, catch passes, and make defenders miss tackles makes him one of the most prolific players in the league.
Their are 12 games remaining for the season. Foster could still manage to accumulate more than 1,000 yards for this season but for now we say…Namaste!