ATLANTA — One of Alabama’s best players said he gave serious consideration to Washington during his recruitment.
Indeed, senior linebacker Reuben Foster used one of his five official visits to fly west for a trip to UW’s campus, and was impressed enough that he told Scout.com at the time — back in January 2013 — that “after this visit, I could really see myself playing there.”
Foster, who played his final high-school season in Auburn, Alabama, was a five-star recruit and Scout.com’s No. 2-rated player in the entire 2013 class. As such, his recruitment was monitored closely by many interested parties. There was plenty to monitor: Foster committed to Alabama in July 2011, switched his commitment to Auburn in July 2012, backed out of that commitment five months later, and visited UW a month after that. His other four official visits were to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and San Diego State.
During a Peach Bowl press conference Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta, Foster said of UW: “Our relationship was great, man. They took me in and all that. But I’m here at ‘Bama.”
He added that his interest in UW was “very serious,” though it always seemed unlikely that an Alabama native with offers from the SEC’s top programs would actually commit to the Huskies.
Foster, of course, wound up signing with the Crimson Tide, and this season became a unanimous first-team All-American in addition to winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. Foster totaled 94 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks in 13 games.
“He’s like a coach on the field,” Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said. “He’s really studied the game. He’s prepared each week, which is important. He understands some of the plays he’s going to get before he gets them.”
Media members were allowed to view the first 15 minutes of Washington’s Tuesday practice at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta, where the Huskies were in full pads on an outdoor field.
It appears as if UW might again be without outside linebacker Connor O’Brien, who sat out the Pac-12 championship game against Colorado with an apparent knee injury. O’Brien was at practice on Tuesday, but wore only a helmet and no pads, and seemed to go through drills at a slow pace. He also wore a brace on his left knee.
Junior linebacker Azeem Victor, out for the season due to a broken bone in his leg, made the trip and attended practice.
The Huskies won the first two competitions of the Peach Bowl’s “Battle for Bowl Week” series, defeating Alabama players in go-karting and bowling on Monday night. In bowling, UW posted a team score of 488 to Alabama’s 385, and the Huskies had an average go-kart lap time of 41.35 to Alabama’s 41.76. … UW did not make any extra arrangements to combat the change from Pacific to Eastern time this week. The Huskies flew to Atlanta on Christmas Day and have already practiced here twice. “we usually practice earlier than we’re doing here, so we’re getting adjusted to the time change through the week, and we’ll be ready to play.” UW’s Tuesday practice began around 11:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. PT), which is typically about the time the Huskies practice in Seattle. … UW players were asked frequently on Tuesday about their underdog status against No. 1 Alabama, which is favored by about 15 points in most Las Vegas sports books. Senior offensive lineman Jake Eldrenkamp cares little about the point spread: “I’m just glad we can still play the game at the end of the day, because if it was up to the media, I don’t think we’d have a chance.” Said tailback Myles Gaskin: “Our job is to play football. Other people’s job is to write stuff down. So, whatever.”