Toronto Argonauts running back D.J. Foster flashed all the makings of a CFL star in his debut north of the border.
Foster is one of just five players in NCAA Division I history to record 2,000 yards rushing and receiving in a career. Those versatile offensive abilities were proven at Arizona State University and give him intriguing potential in the three-down version of football.
“It’s a fast game, you’ve got three downs to make something happen. There’s a lot of great athletes out there — Canadian, American it doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of guys that love the game of football. It’s high intensity, so it’s fun to go out there and compete,” Foster said.
The 27-year-old Foster did more than just participate in the Argos 30-23 win against Winnipeg in Week 3. He rushed 10 times for 101 yards and one touchdown, an impressive 10-yard major and caught one ball for 14 yards — 11 touches for 115 yards works out to 10.45 yards each time the football was in his hands.
“When he finally got to get activated to the roster, we all knew that he was going to be set up for a big game. The 100 yards that he had didn’t surprise anybody that’s been in the locker room since training camp,” quarterback Nick Arbuckle said.
“We felt like he had a future. Very bright guy, sharp kid. In a few days of camp he really opened up our eyes and not too many guys can do that. He’s going to be a big part of our offence,” head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said.
Toronto signed Foster on July 19 and one month later he was a key factor in the Argos upsetting the defending Grey Cup champions in the double blue’s home opener at BMO Field. The six-foot, 205-pound back didn’t expect to play a lot in his first CFL game, but was clearly prepared to go with the flow.
“It’s been a crazy month. I was back home just sitting on my butt and I was so blessed to have this opportunity. I’m just so happy to be here and have fun playing football again,” Foster said.
“I just want to thank God so much because I was at a point where I was done with football and trying to move on to the next chapter and I was fortunate to have this opportunity.”
After going unselected in the 2016 NFL Draft, Foster signed an undrafted free agent contract with New England. He spent his rookie season with the Patriots as the franchise won Super Bowl LI with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady leading the way.
The following season, Arizona signed Foster off the Pats’ practice squad and he spent four seasons with the Cardinals. One year was lost to a major knee injury and a large part of another was missed with a hamstring setback. However, the Cards stayed with the local university star through the injuries.
When healthy, in 26 NFL games Foster rushed 15 times for 45 yards, caught 19 passes for 142 yards and returned 11 kick-offs for 263 yards. He earned over $2.6 million playing in the NFL. Foster signed a two-year contract with Toronto, which includes a base minimum salary of $65,000 with $5,000 in housing allowance and $300 per game for playing 51 percent or more of the offensive snaps.
Foster accumulated 444 rush attempts for 2,355 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns to go with 222 receptions for 2,458 yards (11.1 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns for the ASU Sun Devils while playing in the Pac-12. That’s why Foster can expect to get his fill of the football with the Argos.
“He’s a special player,” Dinwiddie said. “We gotta continue to get him touches.”