While many have not heard of nor seen him play, West Alabama's (UWA) Otha Foster III is arguably one of the best players signed as an undrafted free agent by any team this year.
Houston Nutt (Ole Miss), Turner Gill (Kansas) and Tim Beckman (Toledo), as well as numerous others, can vouch for that. All three coaches came close to having him on their roster in 2011.
Foster, rated a 3-star recruit by Scout.com, got on the radar of many with a 52-tackle—seven for loss—performance with one interception as a freshman at Pearl River Community College. He followed that performance with 73 tackles (including 12 for loss), five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two interceptions the next season.
Even more impressive was how Foster ended up as a member of the Pearl River football team.
The Angie, La. native originally enrolled as a, non athlete, student at Southern (La.) University. A short while later, he made a decision to enlist and serve two years as a communications expert in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Upon enrolling at Pearl River, Foster decided to attend an open tryout which earned him a scholarship.
In 2010, Foster ultimately decided to commit to Coach Nutt and his Ole Miss Rebels football team.
In a interview with Neal McCready of RebelGrove.com Foster stated (h/t Rivals.com), "Every (Ole Miss) coach told me they liked my maturity. They said they want me to lead and set an example for the younger guys."
He also spoke about how the Rebels' then-coaching staff was seeking assistance in the secondary with the graduation of Johnny Brown and Jeremy McGee. That opportunity would require Foster to make a permanent move from linebacker, his primary position at Pearl River, to safety.
"Last year, they said they didn't have the personnel. They said they want to do a lot of man coverage and reads and zone.. I'm ready today. I'm very anxious," Foster said.
Ole Miss provided one other key and deciding aspect—the ability for Foster to be within driving distance to see his daughter on a regular basis.
Problems arose, however, just as soon as Foster committed.
The NCAA has a Five-Year Rule that allows college student-athletes to have five years to complete their four years of eligibility. Athletes' college eligibility starts one year after completion of high school.
This meant Foster would only be eligible to play one season at Ole Miss.
The unfortunate situation would turn into a positive for Foster and newly promoted UWA head football coach Will Hall.
UWA, a small Division II school based in Livingston, Ala. and a three-hour drive from Angie, La., was coming off of a promising season that came just short of a playoff berth.
The Tigers, like Ole Miss, lost several members of the secondary to graduation.
Enter Otha Foster III.
He became an immediate starter at the strong safety position and helped lead UWA to two consecutive playoff appearances.
Foster finished his collegiate career at UWA with 96 tackles (62 solo), 10 interceptions and 19 passes defensed.
If you look at his collegiate career as a whole, he tallied 221 tackles, 13 interceptions, 24 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
With the Kansas City Chiefs, Foster has finally received that recognition and will be a player to watch in training camp.
Foster at his best can be either a solid backup at strong safety for Eric Berry or find himself in a close race to become starter at free safety.
It is interesting to note that Husain Abdullah and Neiko Thorpe are currently members of the Chiefs' roster. Both players were once undrafted free agents.
Abdullah earned a starting spot with the Minnesota Vikings after several years of playing with the team. Thorpe came close to earning a 53-man roster spot with the Chiefs last season and was brought back. He played in nine games.
So odds are good that this may be the best team for Foster to prove himself.
Whether he makes the Chiefs' final roster or not, I predict his talent will earn him a NFL 53-man roster/practice squad roster spot somewhere eventually.
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