Robert Foster, center, with his brother Dior Adams, 6, holds hands with his mother, Sherrice Clements, left, and his father, Robert Foster II, at a news conference Friday to announce his decision to attend Alabama next season.
By Sam Werner Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Central Valley wide receiver Robert Foster, perhaps the WPIAL's best collegiate prospect this season, will play his college football at probably the nation's top program.
Foster gave his verbal commitment to Alabama Friday, choosing the Crimson Tide over Pitt at a news conference at his high school.
Surrounded by his friends and family -- and with his 6-year-old brother Dior Adams on his lap -- Foster thanked his friends, family and high school community before announcing his commitment to the Crimson Tide.
Speaking with reporters afterward, Foster cited the challenge of playing for Alabama and coach Nick Saban on a perennial title contender.
"Coach Saban told me I'm going to have to work, and that's one thing I like to do," Foster said. "I like to work for my starting position."
Foster generally is considered to be the top WPIAL senior recruit. He is listed as a four-star prospect on Rivals.com, and ranked as the 10th-best receiver in the country.
As a senior at Central Valley, Foster caught 45 passes for 756 yards this season. He also rushed 67 times for 549 yards and was a standout kick-returner and defensive back.
Even though Foster -- who had scholarship offers from virtually every top program -- narrowed his choices to Alabama and Pitt months ago, he said the decision was a struggle.
"I made up my mind this morning," Foster said. "I got on my knees and asked God to give me the right answer. This morning, He told me the best fit for me was Alabama."
Foster's mother, Sherrice Clements, said he sent a text message to family members Wednesday saying he was going to choose Pitt, but changed his mind Friday morning.
Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said he knew the choice was difficult for Foster, who understood that he would disappoint some people by not choosing Pitt.
"I know he was on the phone with mom and dad. and I think they both said, 'You've got our blessing no matter what you do with this, where you go.' " Lyons said. "That put a smile on his face, allowed him to come to this conclusion."
Lyons said it made sense that a player with Foster's work ethic would take on the challenge of playing in the SEC, considered the nation's top football conference.
"What the Alabama staff said was, 'Listen. You can play for us, but we're going to challenge you every day,' " Lyons said. "And he welcomed that challenge, he loves to be challenged in that way."
Making his announcement, Foster had to pause himself a few times to regain his composure. He said it was tough to leave his family in friends to attend a school 800 miles away, but knew it was the right decision.
"The emotional part was that I'm going to miss my high school family," Foster said. "That's one thing I'm going to miss a lot. It was hard, you know what I mean? I'm not going to see my family as much as I possibly can, not going to see my friends. But I've got one job to do in college, that's to get an education and, hopefully, chase my dreams."
Clements said she would have liked her son to stay close to home, but understood his choice.
"They both are great schools," she said. "I would have preferred Pitt, but it's his life. I am happy with his decision."
Foster's choice will come as a disappointment for Pitt coach Paul Chryst, who has said many times that one of his top recruiting goals is keeping elite WPIAL talent in Western Pennsylvania. Former Hopewell running back Rushel Shell chose the Panthers over Alabama last year.