Editor's note: During the countdown to national signing day on Feb. 1, DawgNation will talk with a former Georgia football player each day about his memories of the recruiting process.
Today's former Bulldog is George Foster. The offensive lineman had plenty of college options coming out of Southeast High School in Macon, Ga., but he committed to Georgia during his official visit and stuck by the pledge.
Foster was a starting tackle as a junior and senior and starred on an offensive line that helped the 2002 Bulldogs win their first SEC title in 22 years. The Denver Broncos picked Foster in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft, and he spent eight years in the league with Denver, the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints.
Here are the highlights from DawgNation beat writer David Ching's conversation with Foster:
DC: Looking back, what was the recruiting process like for you?
GF: For me, it was all something new that I kind of didn't know existed, the whole process. For one, I just grew up a sports fan. I didn't know I was going to be good enough to play college ball or anything. I was late starting with football. I always played baseball and basketball. I was a big kid, so with the weight restrictions and size restrictions in Pop Warner, I never played Pop Warner football. So I was just always a fan, but didn't know it would lead to something bigger. Recruiting's different now than it was when I was being recruited. There was not a big hoopla when I was being recruited. It came as a surprise to me. It was kind of like a whirlwind. All of a sudden, I'm getting all these letters and getting invited on all these visits. It was something new. It was definitely something different. Early on I just thought I'd finish high school and go to college and take it from there.
DC: When was it that you got your first offer and who was it from?
GF: If I remember correctly, the first team to recruit me might have been Clemson. It was coach Reggie Herring, who I think is in the NFL now. They were definitely the first to come to the school to see me practice and whatnot. It probably was my junior year. I probably started getting those preliminary letters and questionnaires going into my junior year. I think Georgia Tech and maybe Ole Miss was one of them. A couple smaller schools, Middle Tennessee, because I was just coming onto the scene.
DC: When you really got serious about the process and were weighing what you would do, how many schools did you consider and what set Georgia apart?
GF: My first visit was Georgia Tech. I was new to everything, so I was just going to give everybody a shot. I was elated to even be wanted. So I went to Georgia Tech, and then my next visit was Georgia. For a little bit, my intentions were to go to Tennessee, and then the next week to Auburn, or either in reverse order. I went on my visit to Georgia and just got there and it felt like home. I'm from Macon, Ga., and it was really downhome and a family-oriented place at the time, with Coach [Jim] Donnan and his staff. Another thing that helped Georgia a little bit was the fact that Coach [Rodney] Garner was recruiting me from Tennessee. Everyone knows he's an excellent recruiter and a really likeable guy. He came down and visited with me and my family at my grandmother's house and all that when he was with Tennessee. Then when he went over to Georgia, it kind of swung momentum toward Georgia a little bit because I liked him and my family liked him. At the end of my visit to Georgia, I committed and canceled all my other visits. I didn't know at the time about taking visits just to see or whatever. To me a commitment is a commitment, and I loved Georgia and the direction they were headed, and I committed on the spot.
DC: How did your college experience compare to what you expected when you were a recruit?
GF: It was much more than I could have ever thought. Some of my best friends hit that field with me at some point in the past. I still talk with those guys each day. There were some guys that I created a real strong bond with during my time there. I never could have predicted that. You always think that your friends will be the ones that you grew up with in childhood. I just made some lifelong friends and played for some great coaches -- some that I still talk to this day and some that are still in the NFL that I come in contact with from time to time. Those are things that you never expect to happen by the time you leave college. Also, winning the SEC championship my senior year was a great way to top it off. I enjoyed it. I'll never forget that as one of the best moments I've had.
DC: Have you got a memorable story from when you were a recruit?
GF: I can remember having a basketball game one day, the same day that Coach Garner and another coach were coming down from Georgia to meet with me. After the game, I get home and I'm hungry and my mom had made something for me, but the coaches ate all the food. I don't remember what she had cooked, but they ate all of it and I had to get something else. I don't know what I ate.