Could you commit a piece of life to an opportunity in a city that you’ve never been, one that’s 400 miles from home? James Foster has, and the 21-year-old Montgomery, Alabama native now finds himself packing for a new chapter in his journey - joining the Charlotte 49ers.
Blessings come in all different forms, but the most frustrating times can often lead to the biggest rewards. For Foster, his journey has seen the highs of being recruited and suiting up for some of the most prestigious schools in the country, and the lows of a near-death experience at the hands of a moving vehicle.
At the age of 14, Foster was struck by a car and was hospitalized, missing the majority of his freshman season. The miraculous recovery yielded a return to the field in the same calendar year, as well as the makings of a strong foundation with the man upstairs. A promise was made to his mother that he would one day hear his name called in the NFL draft, and that is just one of the motivating factors that kept the perennial high-school star focused through his recovery.
Fast forward to his sophomore season, where Foster had his sights set on North Carolina, and the Larry Fedora-led Tar Heels. The excitement wore off, resulting in the 6’3”, 217-pound prospect axing his verbal commitment and looking towards Missouri for a collegiate home. The SEC attention warranted more of the same, and LSU extended what would be a life-changing scholarship to Foster, completely rerouting his recruiting process.
Foster decommited from Missouri and reopened his recruiting process, eventually landing on Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies.
“I really should’ve committed to LSU, but I feel like everything happens for a reason. I really liked Jimbo’s track record with quarterbacks, but I felt like I didn’t really get a fair opportunity to showcase my talents.”
After two years in College Station, James Foster’s journey now leads him to the East coast as the former four-star prospect announced his commitment to the 49ers last month. With three seasons of eligibility remaining, the dual-threat quarterback has ample opportunity to showcase his talents in Conference USA.
“If I’m at quarterback I think we have a great chance of winning. I think I can make any throw on the field and lead the team. I’ve always been a leader, and I think that’s one of my biggest assets. I put in the work every day and having confidence in yourself plays a big role in it.”
James was very adamant about his readiness to work and prove himself to his new teammates. He enters a quarterback room that was desperately in need of depth, but providing a good look in practice isn’t why Foster moved to the East Coast. The battle with three-year starter, Chris Reynolds, is going to heat up quickly as spring ball nears. The competition is only going to make both players better, and this battle consists of a former walk-on turned stud, and a four-star, highly touted prospect.
After missing an entire year of football with the decision to opt-out in 2020, Foster finds himself in a familiar system with a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Making the jump from Texas A&M, the reigning Orange Bowl champions and pipeline for 33 current NFL players, to the Charlotte 49ers, who achieved their first winning season in 2019 is absolutely one to note. It’s not about the big stage for James, it’s about finding himself.
“It’s not even about the facilities and all that stuff, just the best fit. It’s about the best chance to get on the field,” Foster said. “I’ve been in college for two years, so I know how the recruiting game goes. It’s more of a business decision. It’s not about the facilities and stuff like that - I just came from one of the best in the country. At the end of the day, it’s about playing the game you love.”
The reality is, we haven’t seen what Foster can do at the collegiate level yet. He’s going to get his shot this season, and it’s safe to say that he welcomes the competition and is ready to strap up for the first time in the green and gold.
“I’m so excited. I’m just ready to get to work. I’m ready to compete. I’m ready to go out there and ball and show the world what I can do. Let’s put Charlotte on the map. Win a conference title and make a New Year’s Six bowl.”
I sat down with James last week.
HB: Do you have an NFL comparison or someone that you model your game after?
James Foster: My favorite player is Deshaun Watson. He’s been my favorite player since he was a junior in high school. I’ve been watching him since the sixth grade. His QB coach is one of my QB coaches too. I know what type of guy he is. The Texans are in the wrong and I think the 49ers are the best spot for him.
HB: Starting with high school - what system did you run in your time with coach Cunningham?
James Foster: It was very competitive in the city. Going into my ninth grade year, I was run over by a car. I wasn’t able to start the season, but I convinced the doctor to let me play the last three games of the season. We won two of the games once I returned after being 0-10 to start the year. We ran the spread. In my junior year, I had Travaris Jackson and my OC and we ran Pro-style a little bit before switching OC’s. It’s very similar to Charlotte and that played a big factor in why I chose Charlotte. We ran some of the same exact plays that Charlotte runs now in my senior year. It didn’t matter how big the school was - whether it was P5 or not. I had P5 schools who wanted me but I didn’t feel like the fit was good enough for me to showcase my talents and get where I want to be.
HB: Moving to recruitment - you verbally committed to UNC and then Mizzou in 2017. You accumulated offers from some of the biggest programs around the country, including the previous two national champs Alabama and LSU. What steered you away from those schools?
James Foster: When I committed to UNC I think it was a little too early, I just made the decision too early. I was going to go to Missouri, but the reason I decommitted was the offer I got from LSU. That was my main point in decommitting, but I kinda got caught up in the recruiting. But I really should’ve committed to LSU. But I feel like everything happens for a reason. I really liked Jimbo’s track record with quarterbacks, but I felt like I didn’t really get a fair opportunity to showcase my talents.
HB: What was the most challenging part of 2020 for you personally?
James Foster: Probably just being away from the team. Not being with the guys was the hardest thing for me. Not strapping up, not putting on shoulder pads for a whole year. But it also helped me find myself as a whole with all that free time on my hands. It humbled me a lot and it was all God’s doing. Everything happens for a reason. 2020 was a rough year, but it was also one of the best years for me at the same time in terms of helping me find who I am. I saw who is really there for me.
HB: How did the communication with Charlotte begin, and what caught your eye about the program?
James Foster: I already have a good relationship with coach Grimes. He came from A&M and was somebody that I could really trust. I had a great relationship with coach Carney and coach Healy. They really match my energy and you can just feel the good energy when you talk to them. I just felt like they really get people. The system fits me perfectly - running the ball and throwing it also. I think it will showcase my talents a lot. I think they have great pieces up there. They have a good o-line and great receivers who can get open and be where I need them to be. I’ve been in contact with Victor (Tucker). I’ve been watching his film - he can really high point the ball. Coach Carney spoke very highly of Vic.
HB: Did you visit the campus, or how did the recruitment process go?
James Foster: I haven’t even been to Charlotte before. They FaceTimed me and showed me around, but I’ve never been to Charlotte a day in my life.
HB: Are you familiar with any players on the team from past experience?
James Foster: I don’t know him personally, but I know of Taylor Thompson. He grew up in the same area code as me, we used to play them in high school. I heard he was C-USA all-freshman just playing six games.
HB: You’re going from Jimbo Fisher to Will Healy, and the SEC to C-USA. What are you most excited about, and what are you most concerned about in this new chapter of your career?
James Foster: I’m most excited about getting an opportunity to compete and try to win the job. I want a real opportunity to get out there and showcase my talents. I want to win over my teammates and show them what type of guy I am. I’m just ready for the new journey.
What am I concerned about? Honestly, nothing. I’m just going to give it all to God. He didn’t bring me this far to just leave me. I’m just ready to get there and go to work.
HB: You were third on the depth-chart at A&M, and now you enter a QB room as the highest touted player on the roster. What do you bring to the team, and how can you improve an offense that struggled with consistency in 2020?
James Foster: I think I bring great leadership to the team. I’m just a natural-born leader. I bring a lot of excitement to the game. If I’m at quarterback I think we have a great chance of winning. I think I can make any throw on the field and lead the team. I’ve always been a leader, and I think that’s one of my biggest assets. I put in the work every day and having confidence in yourself plays a big role in it.
HB: Have you gotten a chance to watch Charlotte much in the past two seasons? What have you seen from Will Healy that ultimately sold you on Charlotte?
James Foster: I’ve watched some of their games because I was in contact with them when I was at A&M. I watched the Western Kentucky and North Texas games last season. With COVID and everything, you couldn’t take visits anywhere - so the system played a big part in it. It’s not even about the facilities and all the stuff, just the best fit. It’s about the best chance to get on the field. I’ve been in college for two years, so I know how the recruiting game goes. It’s more of a business decision. It’s not about the facilities and stuff like that - I just came from one of the best in the country. At the end of the day, it’s about playing the game you love.