Evan Foster shouldn’t make any sense.
How does a guy who played football for the first time as an 18 year old get so good so fast?
From one year of midget to four years of junior and now on to CIS football, his meteoric rise through the ranks isn’t supposed to happen.
“I played hockey and lacrosse growing up, and got a little big for those sports,” said the Chilliwack native who recently committed to the University of Manitoba Bisons. “I switched over to football and it just felt like my natural sport.”
Foster always thought football looked fun, and when a couple buddies wanted to play in 2009, he signed up with the Chilliwack Minor Football Giants. He was part of a provincial champion team that first year, proving to be a quick study on the defensive line.
“Defensive line isn’t too hard to pick up because a lot of times it’s just pin your ears back and go,” he said. “Stop the run on the way to the quarterback kind of thing. Maybe if I played defensive back or linebacker it would have been tougher, but the movements, hits and hands all come pretty natural to me.”
From midget he moved on to the BC Football Conference and the perennial powerhouse Vancouver Islander Raiders.
He was there for two years and two Cullen Cup championships, though he drew the wrath of some local fans for not choosing his hometown Valley Huskers.
“I got a lot of questions at that time,” he conceded. “But I didn’t want to stay in town. I just wanted to get out. And when I came back, I don’t want to sound bad, but I wanted to go to a winning team.”
Foster joined the Langley Rams for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, winning another BCFC title in 2012.
His team fell short in the final last year, the first time that his season ended without a championship.
Still, if the Bisons or any other CIS team were hesitant to sign the Chilliwack secondary school grad, his individual dominance silenced any doubts.
He was the most disruptive defensive force in the BCFC, and maybe Canadian junior football.
He terrorized quarterbacks all year, and in the season finale against the Huskers, Foster recorded four QB sacks.
That gave him 16 for the year, new record for both the BCFC and CJFL.
“I was pretty amped up for that game because all my friends and family were there to watch me play (at Exhibition Stadium),” he said. “Coming into the game I was told the record was 12 sacks, and I just needed one to break it. Not until after the game did I find out it was 15.”
Foster’s BCFC exploits earned him pro notice and two invites to BC Lion prospect evaluation camps, including one last April.
“The first time I was pretty nervous and more-or-less scared. I was the youngest guy there and it was eye-opening,” he said. “There were guys from the United States who were really, really big. It was tough to describe, but I thought I did pretty well trying to make an impression.”
Foster had some other CIS programs sniffing around as he tore through the league last year, but the Bisons were always at the top of his list.
He could have signed with them last year, but didn’t feel ready.
He does now.
“I wanted to play one more year to really make a name for myself, which I think I did,” he said. “I didn’t think I was ready for all the commitment with school, but it was always going to be Manitoba. They flew me out right away and I really liked their coaches and facilities. I got a good feeling from them.”
During the recruiting process, Bisons head coach Brian Dobie and defensive coordinator Stan Pierre mentioned the possibility that Foster may have to switch positions.
He’s big in person at six-foot and 260 pounds. But that’s small by CIS defensive line standards.
“I told them I’m six-foot-two and 275 pounds,” he laughed.
“They wanted to know if I’m comfortable moving around, moving out to end or maybe even playing a bit of linebacker,” he continued. “I’m cool with anything they want me to do. I think they were thinking of more of a rush linebacker where I line up and do my thing getting after the QB.”
The new home of the Bisons and the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Investors Group Field, was still under construction when Foster toured it two years ago.
The team started playing in it last year, and he looks forward to the CIS atmosphere and one of the most loyal and vocal fan bases in the country.
“I think it’ll definitely be faster football, and I think I’m ready for it, but I won’t know for sure until I get into a game,” he said. “I’m super excited to make plays in that environment and the ultimate goal is to play well, get drafted into the CFL and play pro.”
Get Bison info online at gobisons.ca