Foster's Time is Now

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Labels have little bearing once the ball is snapped. Still, Jesse Holley may be North Carolina's quintessential "possession-type" receiver, and Brandon Tate is being groomed as the "big-play threat." So where does sophomore Brooks Foster fit in?

"I'm a ‘YAC' receiver," Foster said, referring to the yards after catch statistic. "When I catch the ball, I want to make yards after that and score touchdowns. I think I'm a deep threat also, because I have deceptive speed."

After redshirting in 2004, Foster played in five games last season as a reserve wide receiver but did not have a catch.

In fact, other than Holley, there's not a wide receiver on the North Carolina roster with a reception in a college football contest. Senior tight end John Hamlett has 46 career catches for 511 yards and three touchdowns, and several current UNC running backs have receptions out of the backfield.

But that's as far as it goes. Stands to reason, no current quarterback has ever completed a pass in a game for the Tar Heels. (Note: Sophomore Joey Bozich, now a fullback, is a career 3-for-9 passing at UNC for 12 yards with an interception.)

Foster has patiently waited his turn and entered this fall atop the depth chart at the second wideout slot.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity," Foster said. "I've been deep behind the wide receivers for [two years]. This is my time to shine, so I've got to make the best of this opportunity."

Ranked among the top players in South Carolina coming out of high school, Foster caught 56 passes for 759 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior and earned a spot on his state's Shrine Bowl squad.

"He's really, really smooth," John Bunting said. "He'll have the opportunity to beat people deep. He can make people miss when he has to."

After the Tar Heels' appearance in the Continental Tire Bowl two years ago, Foster walked on to UNC's 2005 national championship basketball team; but he's finished with basketball now.

"It helped me out that freshman year, which was tough for me since I redshirted my freshman year [in football]," he said. "When I go home, people are like, ‘Ooh, you won a national championship.'"

When asked about his goals for this season, Foster, a soft-spoken athlete, was quoted in UNC's football media guide as saying he just wants to learn to be a better football player.

"That's a great statement by Brooks Foster, because he needs to do that and he certainly is," Bunting said. "He works real hard and he's starting to get it.

"When he gets the ball, he's got to put it away – I want to make sure he understands that. He learns on a daily basis through repetition. It's one thing to be book smart, it's another thing to go out and play football."

Foster has been nicked up a little during this preseason, but walked off the field Friday saying he enjoyed one of his best practices to date.

Fans won't know what to expect of him until they get a good look Sept. 2 in the season opener against Rutgers. Meanwhile, Foster is working to make sure his starting debut is a memorable one.

"I'm doing well," he said. "It's been kind of tough – yesterday I was kind of beat up, but I had a good day of practice today. I'm just trying to get a lot of reps. I'm trying to learn how to read defenses a whole lot better. I'm just getting more of a natural feel for it."

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