NCCU 'special player' Foster keeps racking up tackles

Nov. 05, 2013 @ 10:27 PM

N.C. Central linebacker Tazmon Foster stayed on the ground a lot during the Eagles’ nationally televised 38-14 loss to Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.

It actually was a good look on ESPNews for Foster. No doubt, he kept getting up off the carpet at NCCU’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, but the senior hitter from Henderson more often than not was peeling himself from a Bethune-Cookman ball carrier that he’d dragged to the turf.

Foster corralled a career-high 18 tackles against the nationally ranked Wildcats, who have moved up three spots to No. 10 in the Football Championship Subdivision rankings.

Twelve of Foster’s tackles were solo shots, and two of those were for losses, including a quarterback sack. Foster also forced a fumbled at the 1-yard line to prevent a touchdown.

“He’s just special, special football player,” NCCU interim coach Dwayne Foster said. “We talk about it all the time, about him having a nose for the football. I mean, his instincts are just unbelievable.”

The guy could use a little help, though, Coach Foster said. NCCU’s defense is dead last in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Eagles are giving up 458.8 yards per game.

“Defensively, you want to get 11 hats to the football, without a doubt,” Coach Foster said.

The math doesn’t add up to an MEAC championship for NCCU. The Eagles (4-5, 2-3 MEAC) have lost too many games.

A winning season for NCCU, however, remains on the table. It’s just that the Eagles can’t lose any more games in order for that to happen.

“Our goal is to prepare for these next three football games, and our goal is to win every game,” Coach Foster said. “We set a motto a couple of weeks ago after we dropped our second (game) in the conference, (which) was to simply go 1-0 each week. We wanted to create one-game seasons per week, and that’s what we’ll do this week.”

NCCU goes to Hampton (3-6, 3-2 MEAC) on Saturday (1 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com).

It’s a good bet that Tazmon Foster will be wherever the football is.

Another reasonable wager is that NCCU won’t win unless Foster gets some backup, Coach Foster suggested.

“We’ve got to get everybody running to the football, and not just Tazmon Foster, for that matter. We shouldn’t be sitting around looking at him make tackles,” Coach Foster said.

NCCU had better rally to the football when Hampton running back Jorrian Washington has it in his hands. He’s second in the MEAC with 118.8 all-purpose yards per game.

Washington averages 7.1 yards per carry, leading the Pirates with 468 rushing yards. He is Hampton’s second leading receiver (25 receptions, 186 yards, 2 touchdowns) and averages 24.4 yards per kickoff return.

The MEAC’s top producer of all-purpose yards is NCCU’s Adrian Wilkins, who has been churning out 139.1 yards per game and has scored touchdowns on two kickoff returns, two punt returns and two receptions. He is the only FCS player this season to have returned four kicks for touchdowns.

The Pirates also have a rather active guy on defense in linebacker Delbert Tyler, who is second in the MEAC with 103 tackles.

But Tazmon Foster is the league’s top tackler, and his 110 stops this season make him the No. 2 tackler in the FCS. He’ll be a handful for the Pirates, Hampton coach Donovan Rose said.

“He’s going to make some plays. We’ve just got to make sure we try to neutralize him,” Rose said.

Last year, Tazmon Foster (5-10, 215) showed up at NCCU with a highlight reel. Literally. He’d been playing Division III football at N.C. Wesleyan but wanted to suit up in Division I. Tazmon Foster said he’s undersized but knew what he could do. NCCU’s coaches found that out soon enough.

“You certainly have to do your due diligence in terms of recruiting and following-up on individuals that will bring a film by,” Coach Foster said. “If he’s a football player, get him out there and get him going.”

Tazmon Foster sure enough is a football player.

“He’s probably one of the toughest football players I’ve been around,” Coach Foster said. “Getting off blocks and shedding blocks and just running to the football. He’s got an unbelievable heart.”

Tazmon Foster’s teammates must bring that same toughness to Hampton if NCCU is to have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2007, as well as the most wins since those 11 victories the Eagles secured during the 2006 season that ended with a second-round loss in the Division II playoffs. It’s a sentiment Coach Foster expressed weeks ago:

“We believe we’re a blue-collar football team,” Coach Foster said. “We like to go into games with, certainly, that mentality of being physical and playing a physical, violent football game.”