This week's edition of Milestone Monday features Arizona State running back D.J. Foster. Last season, the freshman phenom burst onto the season as an all-purpose threat and accounted for 1,026 yards. Foster was a weapon both on the ground and through the air as his 493 rushing yards and 533 receiving yards suggest. This season, the Sun Devils hope the local product will factor into the offense even more prominently.
With Foster primed for a big season, the writers at House of Sparky gave Foster a rather lofty milestone to accomplish. We debate whether the ultimate wild-card can account for more than 1,500 all-purpose yards this season.Kerry Crowley: In thinking back to last season, I recall times where I thought D.J. Foster looked like the next big thing. He has such a knack for making plays and he really became an integral part of the Arizona State offense as a freshmen. I decided to check into his stats and I was surprised to see that Foster only racked up 1,026 all-purpose yards. For a first-year player, that's quite the stat line. However, I still expected to see Foster with better numbers, especially rushing the ball, because I know he played so much.
With that being said, I'm hesitant to say that Foster will reach 1,500 all-purpose yards. If he earns a spot as a kick or punt returner, I have no doubt that he'll reach that mark. But if he doesn't, the 1,500 mark could be tough to crack. However, I'm going against my own logic and predicting that Foster will end up between 1,500 and 1,700 all-purpose yards. I know Mike Norvell will call upon Foster more frequently to run the ball, and Taylor Kelly built a solid report with him last season. Although the leap from 1,026 to 1,500 is substantial, I think the world of Foster's abilities and I know he can do it.
Ryan Bafaloukos: I am going to say that Foster will hit the 1,500-yard mark this season. Foster is now a sophomore and more experienced as a college football player. I believe that Foster's relationship with Taylor Kelly will give him an advantage as a wide receiver. Kelly will be more comfortable with Foster than with some of the new receivers, especially early in the season.
Last season, the Sun Devils ran for 2,670 yards, with Foster collecting 493 of them. I think that number will rise to around 700 without Cameron Marshall. So in the end I think Foster gets around 700 rushing yards and 800 receiving yards to put him above the 1,500 mark.
Cory Williams: All the pieces are in place for D.J. Foster to hit 1,500 all-purpose yards. With Cameron Marshall exhausting his eligibility, both Foster and Marion Grice will see an increased workload in 2013. A stiff schedule will leave the first-string offense in games for longer periods of time and Foster's unique playmaking ability in open space is something Todd Graham will look to exploit often this year.
Furthermore, considering the questions ASU has at the wide receiver position, Foster will be tasked with providing a sure set of hands for Taylor Kelly to throw to. Foster has bulked up and will be more capable of handling the physical duress that takes its toll over the course of the season. Should D.J. stay healthy, 1,500 yards seems inevitable.
Ben Haber: After watching D.J. Foster's freshman campaign, I refuse to count him out. To over simplify things, Foster understands what it takes to be great. Eclipsing 1,500 total yards will present a serious challenge, but the legendary Saguaro high school prospect choose to attend ASU to make history. Foster tallied 1,026 total yards in 2012, therefore between natural progression and increased responsibilities -- he will surpass the lofty 1,500 yard marker.
ASU preaches high tempo offense and explosiveness, and Foster epitomizes the brand. Foster, the local home town hero, showed omens of being lethal last year, yet he will do so more consistently in 2013. Foster needed to put on weight, and what did he do? He put on 15-20 pounds, and still possesses the same dynamic game-changing speed. Foster can run the rock better than advertised, while driving defensive coordinators nuts as a tough mismatch via the passing games. In addition, I think special teams coach Joe Lorig plans to utilize Foster in the underrated third aspect of football. If the Devils are serious about Rose Bowl proclomations, get the ball in Fosters' hands anyway possible, with kick returns and/or punts being a nice option. The potential is endless for Foster, and betting against him is something I wouldn't recommend.
Cody Ulm: We all know Foster's rushing totals are inevitably going to climb after Marshall's departure but I think it's going to be pretty difficult for him to top what he did in the receiving department last season. Due to ASU's lack of playmakers on the outside, Foster operated straight up as a wide receiver often last season which resulted in a deceptive amount of receiving yards for a "running back" (533 yards). To put that into perspective, that's 88 more receiving yards than perennial Heisman candidate De'Anthony Thomas had in 2012. If Foster is acting as a wide receiver at the same frequency in 2013 as he was last year, Arizona State's season probably wouldn't be going exactly as they planned.
With that said, I do expect his rushing and touchdown totals to climb dramatically. Mark my words, Foster is going to show a dramatic improvement in between the tackles next season which should result in something closer to 900 rushing yards and six or seven rushing scores. But with his receiving numbers dropping, I expect his all-purpose yards to be around 1,350 or so, just short of the milestone. If Marion Grice wasn't a factor, I wouldn't be surprised to see Foster with just under 2,000 yards and that could easily happen his junior year. Unfortunately for Foster, he has a Heisman darkhorse standing in his way.
Mitch Terrell: In order for Foster to gain more than 1,500 all-purpose yards this season, I feel he'll have to take kickoff or punt returns. While he is going to be a sophomore and have the experience factor on his side, he will still be sharing a majority of the carries and receptions with Marion Grice and Chris Coyle. The Sun Devils list of opponents for the first half of the season also doesn't help the case for Foster earning nearly 500 more yards this season. It's no secret that ASU's opponents in 2013 far outweigh the ones in 2012. I could potentially see the Sun Devils having to throw their way back into a few of those games at the beginning, thus taking a few carries away from Foster.
By the end of the season, if Foster doesn't do punt or kickoff returns, DJ will finish with close to 1,300 all-purpose yards. If he does take kickoff returns, which I could see, he'll reach the 1,700 all-purpose yards roughly.
Sun Devil fans: Do you think D.J. Foster has what it takes to reach 1,500 all-purpose yards? Drop us a line in the comments section and share your prediction for the upcoming season.
Previous Milestone Mondays