Central Valley star receiver Robert Foster surprised many when he turned down a chance to play for his hometown team, Pitt, and decided to attend a college in the Southeastern Conference. But is Foster's decision a sign of the times?
It used to be highly unusual for a standout player in the WPIAL to choose a college in the southern part of the country, or in the far west. For decades, if the top players didn't choose an in-state school, they didn't venture much farther than Big Ten Conference schools such as Ohio State, Michigan or Wisconsin.
But Foster's decision to choose the University of Alabama over Pitt isn't all that unusual when you look at some other recent decisions. McKeesport's Delvon Simmons and Branden Jackson and Clairton's Desimon Green were three players from the WPIAL class of 2011 who shocked many when they signed with Texas Tech (although Green never made it to Texas Tech and is now at California, Pa.).
In the WPIAL class of 2012 Upper St. Clair's Dakota Conwell and Chartiers Valley's Wayne Capers signed with the University of Arizona.
Then came Foster's decision last Friday. Foster went to dinner with Central Valley coach Mark Lyons last Thursday and told him Pitt was it. But by Friday morning, Foster had changed his mind. Friday afternoon, he announced for Alabama at a news conference.
"For a kid to go to a place like Alabama, what I think it takes is someone who is really willing to be challenged -- and mostly [challenged] as a young man," Lyons said. "I think a player who is willing to go that far from home is saying to himself, 'Man, I'm ready for this challenge.'"
It's not all that often that schools such as Alabama and Texas Tech recruit the WPIAL.
"I think what really sold me how much they wanted him was one of their assistant coaches came up here this season, stuck around us all day from morning to night, kind of hung out with us and then went to our game against Moon," Lyons said. "That's kind of when I knew they really wanted him."
Foster still has not scored high enough yet on the SAT or ACT to be eligible as a freshman.
• Temple was busy this week recruiting WPIAL juniors. The Owls offered at least three WPIAL juniors -- North Allegheny wide receiver-defensive back Elijah Zeise, Sto-Rox quarterback-defensive back Lenny Williams and Sto-Rox linebacker Brendan Blair.
Mike White: email@example.com