TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There may not be a position group on the University of Alabama football team with more competition than wide receiver this year, but Nick Saban is looking for one in particular to have a bigger role: Robert Foster.
“He’s certainly a guy who would be a real plus for us because of the speed that he has, the vertical ability he gives us outside,” Saban said. “I think he’s playing better than he did a year ago and hopefully he’ll continue to improve and have a role on the team.
“We need for him to do that.”
Foster was considered a 5-star prospect (according to the 247Sports Composite rankings) in the recruiting class of 2013, but only has 21 career receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns
Specifically, after redshirting, he played in nine games in 2014 and subsequently earned a starting job only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury against Ole Miss. His promising season ended with 10 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns in three starts. Instead, Calvin Ridley stepped in and had a 1,000-yard freshman year.
Getting back to that point has been a struggle for Foster, who grew frustrated after making just five receptions for 55 yards in 2016. Nine teammates had as many catches and more yards. In January, Foster told Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser that he was weighing his options, and considering a possible transfer.
With ArDarius Stewart and Gehrig Dieter having moved on Alabama has two starting jobs open, and numerous players trying to land roles including 5-star early enrollee Jerry Jeudy.
“I think Jerry is like me when I first got here,” Ridley said. “He’s really good.”
Saban also went out of his way to praise Jeudy’s performance so far.
“Calvin Ridley has had a really good spring so far, shown a little more leadership and is certainly setting a great example with his work ethic, and Cam Sims has done a pretty good job,” Saban said about the position. “That’s certainly a group where we have a lot of good young players. How they develop will certainly be a key to next year.”
Saban made the comments following Alabama’s fourth practice of the spring, which was the first in full pads. In addition to noting that he wasn’t necessarily pleased with the team’s overall performance Tuesday, he was with their progress.
The coach also disclosed that running back Damien Harris suffered a sprained foot during last Saturday’s practice inside, and he hopes that Bo Scarbrough (leg fracture) might be back to full strength by the end of spring.