By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Attending one of the most important sporting events of the University of Washington school year left Mason Foster feeling tickled pink.
And green with envy.
After watching the UW men’s basketball game win two games in San Jose to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, Foster spent much of the 45-minute drive back to his hometown of Seaside wondering what it would take for the Huskies to generate that kind of excitement on the gridiron.
“I had a long talk with my dad about it on the way home,” he said last week. “Just being there and seeing the fan support and how the Huskies get support in a big game, especially on the second day against New Mexico with all that purple, it was exciting.”
With his senior season coming up at UW in the fall, Foster is intent on not leaving the school without playing in a bowl game. The most productive returning player on the Huskies’ defense is dead set on playing in the postseason.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “Last year, a lot of guys felt like it slipped through our fingers. Knowing how close we were, we’re going to work hard to make sure we’re not in that same position. Everybody on the team is focused on getting better.”
UW, which won the final two games of the 2009 season to finish with a 5-7 record, has the offensive firepower to get the school back to a bowl game for the first time since 2002. The biggest question is whether Foster can help bring the Huskies’ defense to the level it needs to be.
UW ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in yards allowed last season and lost its two best defenders — Donald Butler and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim — to last week’s NFL draft.
“Guys are working hard,” Foster said Saturday. “They see what can happen, so everybody’s going to work harder. Guys are working together to be able to compensate for those guys.”
Foster is among the most experienced returning players on defense, and the Huskies are expecting big things from him.
“He’s doing a heck of a job for us,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “He’s had a great spring, and he keeps getting better and better. He’ll be one of the better players in the Pac-10 next year.”
The Huskies have also seen Foster grow into more of a leader. He talks to Butler often and appreciates any advice he can get from his former teammate.
“He’s like a big brother,” Foster said.
There may be a time when Foster joins Butler in the NFL, but before that can happen he’s got one more pressing goal.
This time, Foster wants to be the one participating in a postseason game instead of watching it.