When people talk about Clemson’s defensive line for 2020, they always seem to talk about the potential of defensive end Xavier Thomas, the talent and skill of defensive tackle Tyler Davis and what freshmen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy bring to the table.
Seldom do you hear the name Justin Foster come up.
But what the experts and fans fail to recognize is what Foster has already done and what he brings to a defensive front many believe to be one of the best in college football this season.
Foster will likely play a big role in the Tigers’ success up front. The senior had one of the best years on Clemson’s defense last year. He had more tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback pressures than Thomas. He had more tackles for loss and quarterback pressures than Davis.
It can be argued Foster had an All-ACC caliber season, but he flew under the radar. All everyone wanted to talk about was how Thomas did not live up to his potential or how great Davis was.
In the Tigers’ Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State in the 2020 College Football Playoff, Foster had one of the best games of his career. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end lived in the Buckeyes’ backfield most of the night. He harassed quarterback Justin Fields, while recording a half sack and 1.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He finished the game with five tackles.
Foster also had a sack in the CFP National Championship Game against LSU.
The Shelby, N.C., native was perhaps the most unappreciated player on the Clemson defense last year. He was an honorable mention on the All-ACC team after he tallied 41 tackles while starting 13 of the 15 games he played in.
Foster finished second behind All-American Isaiah Simmons in tackles for loss with 10.5. Simmons had 16. His 4.5 sacks ranked third on a defense that finished third nationally in points allowed at 13.5 points per game.
The defensive end also had 12 quarterback pressures, which ranked second behind Simmons as well. Simmons had 15.
Foster’s best game came at Louisville on Oct. 19 of last year. The senior had a career-high seven tackles for a game, including 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also forced a fumbled in Clemson’s 45-10 victory.
For his efforts against Louisville, Foster was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week.
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