A FORMER North Warrnambool Eagles footballer will chase American college football success in front of more than 20,000 people this weekend.
Matt Foster, a 26-year-old punter, has one final chance to cover himself in National Collegiate Athletic Association glory at Frisco, Texas, tomorrow morning Melbourne time.
He will line up with Texas-based Sam Houston State Bearkats in the NCAA football championship subdivision final. The Bearkats will take on the North Dakota State Bison in the final in what will be a rematch of last season’s decider which the Bison won 17-6.
Foster is a 189-centimetre, 103-kilogram IT student who has dreams of playing in the NFL.
A solid performance in the final, the equivalent of Australian football’s TAC Cup but 10 times as intense, will go a long way to helping him realise that ambition.
“He’s had some offers already, but they’re not allowed to approach them or talk to them until after the final,” his father, Warrnambool’s Michael Foster, said.
“There have been scouts going to most of his games this year. They ask questions and ask the coaches and find out stuff about them. They can’t approach them until the end of the season.”
Foster grew up in Mount Gambier and attended boarding school in Adelaide.
His Australian football career included stints at SANFL club Glenelg, NTFL club St Mary’s and the Eagles, before Hawthorn showed interest in him. He completed a pre-season with the Hawks but failed to get rookie listed, and soon joined VFL club Casey.
It was while he was at the Scorpions that he met Cameron McGillivray, the director of OzPunt, who converted him into an NFL punter.
His first foray in America was as a walk-on punter with Purdue University in Indiana, but opportunities led him to Sam Houston State. “I don’t know a lot about it but his punting has improved two yards each year,” Michael Foster said.
“He’s averaged 48.5 yards and his longest punt is 64 yards. He’s ranked number four for the whole of America.” Michael Foster said he was undergoing a crash course in American football as he followed his son’s fortunes.
“I’m getting a feel for it. I can pick when he’ll come on to punt for them, when they’ve had three tries and they haven’t made much ground,” he said.
“If their side is going good they’ll have two punts and the next week if their side isn’t going good they’ll have 10 punts.”