Foster tries hard to uphold UW's pre-draft tradition

NFL Combine: Like Donald Butler before him, Mason Foster's stock is making a big climb before the draft

February 27, 2011 

INDIANAPOLIS - University of Washington linebacker Mason Foster looks to former teammate Donald Butler for motivation at this week's NFL scouting combine.

Butler was an unheralded, little-known prospect nationally when he showed up at the Senior Bowl last year, but he used an impressive performance there and at the combine to become San Diego’s third-round pick in last year’s draft.

Foster is hoping for a similar ascent in his draft status after an attention-grabbing performance at the Senior Bowl last month.

“That was the plan – to come into the Senior Bowl, play as hard as I could and have fun,” he said. “And it worked out for me. So I’m just trying to keep it going at the combine.”

Foster says he talks to best-friend Butler regularly about the draft process, including a two-hour conversation about what to expect from coaches and scouts the day before he traveled to Indianapolis.

“Donald is one of my best friends,” Foster said. “Besides football and everything, he’s been one of my best friends since I walked on to UW. And definitely, having a guy who’s been through the Senior Bowl, who went through the combine and everything, is great to have in your corner.

“He just told me to relax and have fun, so it’s great to have a guy like that.”

At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, Foster’s strength is his versatility. He has the athletic ability to play on the perimeter but the uncanny anticipation to make plays from the inside.

A four-year starter, Foster was a tackling machine at Washington, leading the Pacific-10 Conference in tackles the past two seasons. Foster played weak-side outside linebacker his senior season and was named to the all-conference first team. Foster said he’s more comfortable at that position because he has had so much success there. But he played strong-side outside linebacker for the Huskies his junior season and also at the Senior Bowl. And one of the things NFL scouts like about him is his ability to play all the linebacker positions.

“It’s always a good thing to be versatile because if one team doesn’t need you at one position, you can play another one. So it’s always good to be able to show different things. It also helps me as a linebacker understand defense better.”

Foster’s total of 163 tackles was a single-season high in the Pac-10 since UW’s Jim Clifford made 168 tackles in 1989.

CAM CONTROVERSY

Before taking a single question during his long-awaited appearance before the media Saturday, Cam Newton attempted to snuff out a fire.

In a prepared statement, the former Auburn quarterback tried to clarify a recent comment in which he described himself “not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon.”

Newton noticed the wave of negative reaction and felt he was misunderstood. The Heisman Trophy winner spent his first minute on the podium explaining where his focus will be in the future, and later said that he was at fault for being unclear.

“First and foremost, I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player I can be,” he said. “I know and believe that.”

His comment drew such a reaction because some say his swagger teeters on the edge of arrogance. In roughly 12 minutes at the podium, he referred to himself in the third person three times. When asked if some mistake his confidence for cockiness, he said: “I’m not sure, but I’m a confident person, and it was instilled in myself at an early age to believe in myself.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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