This season hasn’t been quite what Arizona State wide receiver D.J. Foster had envisioned his final season with the Sun Devils would be.
Arizona State, sitting at 5-5, has underachieved and Foster’s stats, after a move from running back to wideout, are far off what they were a year ago at this time, when he was getting NFL Draft buzz.
But Foster is trying to look at it as a quality versus quantity conundrum in which quality has won out.
“I’ve learned a lot, just about football and being a diverse athlete and what I can bring to the next level,” Foster said. “At the end of the day, our team record and my stats, they’re not where I want them to be, but I’ve learned a lot.”
Yes, his 498 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns pale in comparison to his 1,000-yard rushing season a year ago, but what he has learned this season, as a senior in a new position, is something that he said will help him and Arizona State in the long run.
Foster projects himself as a wideout at the next level, so learning the techniques and fundamentals necessary for that position in college is a move he hopes pays off down the road.
And Foster has helped groom the next generation of Sun Devils running backs -- sophomores Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage have combined for 1,300 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns already this season.
“It has been unbelievable the amount I’ve learned,” Foster said. “I’ve let go of a lot of the selfishness, we all have our selfish ways that we want what we want to obtain. But I’ve let it go and I just want to be a part of this team.”
Foster has now played extensively at nearly every skill position in the Arizona State offense with the exception of Y-receiver and quarterback. He has caught a pass in 50 consecutive games (a Pac-12 record and longest active streak in FBS). And he’s the only active player in FBS that has more than 2,000 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards.
“He’s a very versatile athlete,” Arizona coach Todd Graham said. “He has been the mark of consistency. I think what really helps him is his versatility. He can do so many different things as an athlete.”
On Saturday he’ll celebrate his final game in Sun Devil Stadium. Though this isn’t quite the way he wanted to go out, he said he has focused “on what’s really important” for Arizona State and himself.
“Being a true wideout, that definitely helped my game,” Foster said. “It has helped me all around. It made me a better receiver, a better football player.”
And though his statistics aren’t where he wanted them to be this season, his presence has made Arizona State a much better team over the past four years.