Arian Foster is leading the league in rushing with 1,147 yards and 12 touchdowns in his second season, a year after the undrafted rookie only went for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns.
His head-turning numbers and explosion onto the scene as a top running back is even a bit of a surprise to his old college teammate Omar Gaither. The Eagles linebacker played his college ball at Tennessee, where his career overlapped with Foster’s for two years.
“I’m not surprised he is playing and playing well,” Gaither said. ”I’m surprised he’s playing as well as he’s playing. I mean I always knew he was a good running back, didn’t know he would be leading the league in rushing in his second year.”
Gaither said he and Foster talk every now and then, but that they were in closer touch while Foster was still a Volunteer.
“If I see him I’m sure there’ll be a hello,” said Gaither. “We talked a lot while I was still in the NFL and he was still in college.”
Foster wasn’t always on a path to missing out on being drafted, as he racked up 1,193 yards on the ground, 340 through the air and 14 total touchdowns during his junior year at Tennessee. His behavior, however, was an issue and his playing time was limited as a result during his senior year.
“I mean he was a sleeper coming out of school,” Gaither said. “He had gotten into some trouble you know and things like that, which is why he didn’t really get drafted. He’s not that fast as far as combine speed is concerned, but on the field he runs as fast as anybody.”
Things ended up working out for Foster, as he landed in Houston in a zone blocking scheme that’s a perfect fit for his skill set.
“I mean he has great vision,” Gaither said. “Great vision and he’s patient, and when he hits the hole he can explode and he breaks arm tackles. So, I mean. that’s what a good zone running back is and like, if you can see the hole, hit the hole, and break the arms that are in the hole, then you’ll be the leading rusher in the NFL, and that’s what he is doing.
“He has all the attributes of a good running back, so how surprised can you be?”
Gaither said he’s given a little bit of a scouting report to his teammates based on his familiarity with Foster, but that it might be a bit outdated.
“I’ve given them a few things, as far as, not anything I’m going to tell you right here right now,” said Gaither. “But like I said, I played with him for what? Two years [at Tennessee]? So people evolve; he’s better now at those things than he was then. But I tell them anything that I can.”
He’ll also give Foster anything that he can on the field, in the former of a big hit.
“Certainly, certainly if I get the opportunity,” said the backup linebacker. “I mean that’s what this game is all about, you hit the people you know the hardest. So certainly if I get the opportunity, but we shall see.”