Central Valley wide receiver Robert Foster chooses Alabama
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The cheering and applause for Robert Foster had faded, and most students had gone home for the holiday when his mother, Sherrice Clements, walked into an empty hallway at Central Valley to take one more phone call.
The voice on the other line belonged to Bobby Engram, Pitt's wide receivers coach and the loser to defending national champion Alabama in the Foster sweepstakes.
Clements cheerfully spoke Engram's name and the word “shocked” into her cell phone. Clements was too supportive of her youngest son to be shocked herself, but that probably was an accurate depiction of the feeling in Pitt's football facility Friday. Many people inside the program were cautiously optimistic that Foster would stay close to home and choose the Panthers.
With redshirt junior wide receiver Devin Street checking on his NFL Draft status, Pitt needs a playmaker such as Foster, an star player who scored a touchdown about every six times he caught a pass this season.
Now, the Panthers will continue to recruit Clairton wide receiver Tyler Boyd, possibly with more urgency. Boyd is ranked eighth in the country by Rivals.com among senior wide receivers. Foster is 10th. Both are dangerous return men, another area of need for the Panthers.
Foster is the second elite WPIAL athlete to turn his back on Pitt this year, following North Allegheny offensive lineman Patrick Kugler, who is going to Michigan. Pitt has landed All-American offensive lineman Dorian Johnson of Belle Vernon and six others who were named to the all-state team this week.
Without Foster, the Panthers had the 33rd-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to 247sports.com. Foster could have vaulted Pitt into the top 25.
Engram's phone call to Clements — only 45 minutes after the announcement — indicates Pitt will keep an eye on Foster through letter of intent signing day Feb. 6.
“This is a verbal,” said Central Valley coach Mark Lyons, who said Foster “probably” changed his mind multiple times Friday morning. “That's why I don't know if this is always the best thing to do it this early. But for him, it was the right thing to do.
“I'm never going to say anything is over, but right now, he is comfortable with this.”
Lyons was impressed with Engram's thorough approach to recruiting Foster.
“He spent many days not only coming to school and meeting Robert and his teachers,” Lyons said, “but he drove around to people in the community. He wanted to get to know Robert as a person.”
Said Clements: “I do thank (Pitt's coaches) for their professionalism.”
Foster, who expects to be eligible in his freshman year and avoid prep school, said he developed a close relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban.
“I visited Coach Saban three or four times,” Foster said. “We have a real close relationship. We know each other real tight.
“One of the things I like about Alabama is they made me feel comfortable. I'm not saying Pitt didn't make me feel comfortable, but I felt (Alabama) was a better fit for me.”
Foster has heard the rumors about Saban possibly returning to the NFL after the BCS national championship game Jan. 7.
“That doesn't bother me at all,” Foster said. “Regardless, I am still at college for a reason. If he decides to leave, then I still am going to have to do my job and my classwork.
“I am there to get an education and, hopefully, chase my dreams.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Chicora man charged after entering East Franklin home
- Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
- Pirates notebook: Four players selected for All-Star Game
- Alvarez’s walk-off single lifts Pirates over Padres
- Sign ordinance on the horizon in West Kittanning
- Pair charged with prostitution-related offenses in South Greensburg
- Gameday: Pirates vs San Diego Padres, July 7, 2015
- Torn thumb ligament puts Pirates’ Harrison on 15-day disabled list
- Norvelt residents try to preserve community history’s link to Roosevelts
- Living Treasures animal park plans upset Liberty residents
- New Kensington residents furious over road conditions