As Donte Foster runs toward cornerback Omar Leftwich, he fakes left and switches right for a quick juke move to blow past the corner as he heads toward his goal: the end zone.
Three years ago, he would have used a similar move to fool defenders on his way to a different goal. As a junior college basketball player at Seminole State College, Foster cultivated moves on the hardwood before taking his game to the artificial grass at Peden Stadium.
After excelling in both sports at Guthrie High School in Oklahoma, Foster faced the tough decision of picking which one to play in college. Eventually, he chose basketball, despite football offers from smaller programs.
“I had a few offers for both sports when I came out of high school,” Foster said. “I didn’t start playing football until late in grade school. Basketball had always been my first love.”
In his only season at Seminole State, Foster spearheaded a deep run to the NJCAA Finals and averaged 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a guard.
Despite his successes, Foster still didn’t know if he made the right choice. The Bobcats’ coaching staff didn’t think he did either. Offensive coordinator Tim Albin and other Ohio coaches kept in contact with Foster during his time as a basketball player.
“We stayed on him because we really wanted him,” said wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon. “We really wanted him to be a part of what we have going on and felt like he could be a difference maker, even if he was still playing basketball.”
Playing at a small junior college made Foster want to showcase his athletic talent at a higher level. With his basketball prospects not looking as bright as what Ohio offered with football, he chose to pursue not the sport he loved, but the one in which he had a better chance to succeed.
“Whenever we were warming up in the gym, I’d have our point guard toss it up to me like a receiver going up for a ball,” Foster said. “I just figured I wanted to play at a bigger school even if basketball was my first love.”
After the change of heart, Foster sat out for a season before catching nine passes for 151 yards last fall. Now, he stands as a possible replacement for another receiver who used his basketball skills on the football field: Terrence McCrae.
McCrae, who chose football over basketball despite scholarship offers for both sports, used his 6-foot-5 frame to pull down touchdown catches as if they were rebounds.
Although Foster stands four inches shorter than the receiver he hopes to replace, he takes pride in pulling in catches in the same fashion.
“That’s what I like to,” Foster said. “Jumping, that’s what I do. That’s what I did in track and went to state with that. Jumping is my thing.”
Besides going up for passes, Foster can use his basketball moves to shake defensive backs when the ball is snapped. The cuts and shifts he performs are the moves he pulled out to blow past guards on his way to the basket.
“He’s used to lots of defenders always being around him,” Dixon said. “That crossover move he used in basketball might be a move he can use to get off the line.”
Foster still tries to break his basketball shoes out by hitting the courts at Ping Recreation Center in the offseason with some of the other football players.
Although he gave up his first love, the hardwood, for a brighter future on the football field, the times at Ping are a chance to relive his fondness for his original passion.
“We used to go up there and try to run the courts as a football team,” Foster said. “It’s still fun, but obviously football’s the main sport now.”