Alabama freshman wide receiver Robert Foster was the No. 2 ranked player at his position in the 247Sports composite rankings, but as great as he projects to be, he may not see the field as a true freshman.
Any school in the country could have had Foster, and he likely would have been a starter at 90 percent of those programs, but with the Crimson Tide’s ridiculous depth at the position, he may be asked to redshirt. At least, that’s the question raised by Tide Nation’s Alex Scarborough, who suggests that it’ll be hard to see a scenario where they’ll need him on the field this season.
My eyebrows were raised in a state of surprise to think that Foster could be asked to sit out this season and take a redshirt. However, when you look at the depth chart — which may be the best ensemble of talent at the position in the program’s history — it starts to make some sense.
Amari Cooper enters his sophomore season as a favorite to be a Biletnikoff Award finalist after his record-setting rookie season, and there are 4-6 players below him before you conceivably get to Foster on the depth chart.
Kevin Norwood is back at the WR-Z position, and Christion Jones will be all over the field this year, including the WR-H position. Senior Kenny Bell averaged more than 16 yards per catch to lead the team by more than three yards, and is a big-play option for A.J. McCarron.
Then there are the intriguing options that could have breakout seasons in 2013. Chris Black is back from injury and looked to be a better freshman than Cooper before his injury kept him out of the season. DeAndrew White and Cyrus Jones were highly-ranked recruits yet to make a significant impact on the field, but this could be their chance.
Foster presents a higher ceiling than White and Jones, but can he be consistent enough to take snaps away from two seniors in Norwood or Bell? He certainly isn’t going to take reps from Cooper and doesn’t profile as a slot receiver, where Jones and Black will operate. Furthermore, fellow freshmen Raheem Falkins has looked impressive, and O.J. Howard will be a significant weapon in the passing game from the tight end position this year.
If Alabama did not run a pro-style offense where running the football is the focus, it would be easier for Foster to get some targets. However, I just don’t see how there will be enough balls to go around for Foster to be used effectively as a freshman. This is a good problem to have for Alabama, and if injuries mount at the position, the No. 2 wide receiver recruit is a nice option to turn to.
Perhaps the best option for Foster and Alabama in the short and long-term is to have him redshirt, so he can slide into the spot vacated by Norwood next year and line up opposite Cooper. Now that is a scary looking duo at receiver with Black running the underneath routes and Howard at tight end. McCarron will be gone, but whoever is starting for Alabama next season will be put in a position to have success.
Fans are certainly excited to see what Foster can do especially after the freshman season from Cooper in 2012, but the best thing for him and Alabama is do redshirt him before unleashing him to SEC defenses in 2014.