Daniel House talked with Vikings wide receiver Donte Foster and learned about his road to the NFL.
At Ohio University, Donte Foster turned into one of the school's best wide receivers ever from a statistical standpoint. He's one of only two wide receivers in program history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. He's also the school's leader in career touchdown receptions. Foster is a quick, agile receiver with solid hands. At 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, he has the stature of a receiver who can catch passes across the middle of the field. His 4.48 40 time at his pro day shows he has elite speed, and he's an explosive leaper (42 inch vertical, 130 inch broad jump). Foster focused hard on improving his overall game during the long NFL draft process.
"Basically just went back and looked at tape and see what your strengths and weaknesses are. Just try to improve on your weaknesses so you can eliminate those. I got some inside information from LaVon Brazill (Indianapolis Colts wide receiver), who is a former Ohio player, to learn what the transition is like and to get some tips," explained Foster.
This past season Foster fell into the number one wide receiver role, while catching 69 passes for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns.
"It was a great feeling, being a three year starter. I knew people were looking at me to make plays," said Foster.
Foster prepared extremely hard for the NFL Draft, working tirelessly to improve his game and take it to the next level.
"The biggest thing was route running, just trying to improve that and stay in good condition. I knew that would be a big part of the transition," stated Foster.
As the draft began, Foster sat through the first two days, hoping his name would eventually be called before the draft ended on Sunday.
"I didn't watch the first round, but the next two days I sat at home with my family," said Foster.
His name was never called, but his phone rang immediately following the NFL Draft, as the Vikings wanted to give him a shot.
"I mean, it is what it is. If I did, or I didn't [get drafted], it wasn't really going to bother anybody. Now it just makes it better because you get to walk around with a chip on your shoulder," proclaimed Foster.
He is grateful the Vikings gave him a chance and the phone call he received from the team is one he will never forget.
"It was a great feeling, just sitting there waiting for a phone call after the draft. They were my first phone call and I knew what they were about and that they had interest in me, so it was just a great feeling to have them give me a call," explained Foster.
Foster is an extremely athletic specimen and had a rather illustrious high school basketball career during his high school years at Oklahoma.
"I believe basketball does help as a transition to football, just because the rebounding is equivalent to jump balls of football and the footwork is great for both football and basketball," said Foster.
The Vikings have a solid group of wide receivers and Foster will have the opportunity to be mentored by veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings.
"I've spoken to him [Greg Jennings] a couple of times already. He is a great leader. He's played for nine seasons, he knows the ropes. He has already given me some great information," said Foster.
At his position, he will be coached by one of the greatest wide receivers coaches in the history of league in George Stewart. Stewart has worked with Jerry Rice, Roddy White, and Terrell Owens during his distinguished NFL coaching career.
"He [George Stewart] is very enthusiastic. That is a big part of being a coach; showing enthusiasm and everything. I love being around him. He corrects your mistakes. He wants you to be perfect. He knows your not going to be perfect, but we are working to be perfect. That's always great to have in a coach."
Norv Turner has developed many wide receivers into high level players, by formulating roles that fit their skill-set. Foster will be working closely with Turner as the new offense is implemented in Minnesota.
"Oh yes, definitely, he [Norv Turner] is a very good offensive coordinator. He knows the defenses, he knows what is takes to beat the defenses and he has a great resume. I'm excited to be working under him," said Foster.
"With the mini-camps and workouts we have been having, I have been able to see what Norv Turner's offense is about. It's going to be a transition. I've just got to keep working on it and hopefully master that aspect," explained Foster.
Donte Foster got his first taste of the state of Minnesota last week, as rookie mini-camp began on Thursday.
"I haven't been able to get around yet. It's been to the facility and back here to the hotel. I'm excited to get out and see what Minnesota is all about," stated Foster.
Foster is also excited to get out and meet some of the fans in the state of Minnesota.
"I know that Minnesota has great fans and everything. I know they are excited about this upcoming year and I'll be excited to see what it's all about," Foster explained.
Foster got the chance to catch passes from newly drafted quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and he was extremely impressed with the Vikings first-round pick.
"It is a great feeling. Ohio actually played against Louisville last season in the first game. He [Bridgewater] tore our defense to shreds. It's nice to be on his side this time. He is a great quarterback. We're getting our timing right now, but hopefully we get that chemistry down," said Foster.
Foster saw his first chance to work with head coach Mike Zimmer and he is looking forward to building a legacy with his head coach.
"I mean just being on the field and hearing his [Mike Zimmer's] speeches; he's very influential. His track record is great like Norv Turner's. I can tell he is all about winning and that's what he is aiming for his team to do," said Foster.
Foster knows he will be able to provide an athletic skill-set to the Minnesota Vikings and he feels he will be able to do this in a variety of ways.
"I feel like I can be a deep threat for the jump balls. The fade balls in the redzone with the leaping ability. I feel like that is the biggest part of the game I can bring," explained Foster.
He spent much of the offseason working on improving those skills, while maintaing the ones he developed in college.
"The most I worked on was the speed and the leaping ability has always been there from basketball and high jumping in high school. I've always had the ability to jump for some reason," said Foster.
Foster has been waiting for his moment in the NFL and his ready to take this opportunity to the next level.
"Whether I'm in the game, or watching from the sideline, I just want to see this team win. I'm so ready. It will be a great opportunity and it will be a dream come true. It will feel good once the hard work pays offs," concluded Foster.