D.J. Foster's move to slot about helping ASU, NFL future

The returning, second-team All-Pac-12 running back with the most career rushing yards and touchdowns in the conference isn't playing running back next season, which might seem odd but switching positions is the main reason why D.J. Foster is even back at Arizona State for his senior season.

Foster believes his NFL future will be at slot receiver, where he can showcase his ability to catch and run the ball. His versatility might allow him, in fact, to escape a devalued position in the NFL, not to mention escape the wear-and-tear of playing a position that almost always ends a career before a guy reaches his 30th birthday.

"A lot of the advice I got was stay for my senior year and move to receiver, to the slot position," he said. "That's what they see me more on the next level as. After I thought about it, I agree."

So Foster and his 2,075 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns piled up over three years, including 1,122 yards last season, will permanently move into the slot for the Sun Devils. For one, this isn't a cold call. Foster has played a lot of receiver and caught a lot of passes as a running back -- 113 for 1,834 yards to be exact, with 11 TDs. Further, the Sun Devils are stacked at running back with Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage and touted redshirt freshman De'Chavon Hayes, a player whose playmaking potential inspires gushing from coach Todd Graham.

Finally, the season-ending knee injury to receiver Cameron Smith, the team's budding No. 1 receiver, means ASU suddenly has some troubling questions at wideout and truly needs Foster on the outside.

Another benefit of the position change: Foster gets more quality time with his good buddy and roommate Mike Bercovici, the Sun Devils' new starting quarterback.

Bercovici is not the runner his predecessor, Taylor Kelly, was but he makes up for it with a bigger arm. Bercovici, a fifth-year senior, saw extensive action last year when Kelly got hurt and he and Foster already seem pretty in-sync in the passing game. In the four games Bercovici started or in which he saw significant action, Foster caught 24 of his 62 passes for 293 of his 688 yards.

As Bercovici can make all the throws, the Sun Devils figure to have more of a downfield passing game next fall. Of course, there's still an adjustment to a new starting QB, even if he's familiar.

"It's two different types of quarterbacks, night and day," Foster said. "TK had beautiful balls with touch on them. With Berco, you've got to get your eyes around quick because that ball is coming in hot."

Bercovici also is more demonstrative than the mellow Kelly. That's been noticeable even as the Sun Devils are just into their first days of spring practices.

"Seeing him out there, being that vocal leader we haven't had," Foster said. "TK was a different style of leader. He led more by example. Mike is definitely more vocal. Seeing that the first few days of spring ball is a great thing."

When Foster talks about how the Sun Devils' offense might be different, he first points to the depth at running back, noting those guys "do so many different things well." He might as well be talking about himself, as he's the accomplished running back who's too good of receiver not to change positions.