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Friday, December 21, 2012
'Challenge' of Bama spurred Foster's flip

By Jared Shanker

Robert Foster II said his son's biggest flaw -- if you can call it one -- is that he tries to make everyone happy, so much so it gets in the way of his own well-being far too often.

That almost happened Friday afternoon.

Robert Foster, the No. 2 receiver nationally out of Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley, told all of his close family on Wednesday that he was going to Pittsburgh. And he meant it -- it wasn't a ploy to get his family off of the scent for his Friday announcement.

Two hours before the 2:30 p.m. ET announcement, Foster approached his mom, Sherrice Clements.

"He said, 'I need to talk to you,' and he said Pitt wasn't going to be a challenge," Clements said. "He wanted to work for a spot, go where he wasn't going to be a favorite. ... He said, in his heart, Pitt is the best fit, but he's not going to go where he's the best fit but go where there's a challenge."

Clements preferred to see her son at Pittsburgh, and at the beginning of the recruiting process she was not happy with how Alabama recruited her son. She felt the Tide coaches did not involve her in their pursuit of Foster. But after a few visits with the Tide coaches at her home in Philadelphia, she said she reconciled with them and was behind Foster no matter which he school he ultimately chose.

"I said, 'Mommy is good,' but I made him promise he'll have the same character," Clements said. "He said, 'I promised you in Philadelphia, and I promise now.' "

When Clements gave her blessing, she said she saw a smile from Foster she has not seen since at least the summer, before the craziness of a final decision. He was no longer the No. 28 recruit in the country; he was back to "Baby Rob."

So when Foster stood at the podium at his high school Friday, he shocked most in attendance when he declared, through tears, he would continue his career at Alabama.

"As a mother I got teary eyed, because I can't see my baby, but I told him I understand, that it's his life," Clements said. "He made his mind up, and I heard in his voice that when I said OK, a weight lifted off."

Following Foster's official visit to Alabama in October, it appeared the Tide were close to landing the talented receiver. A few days after his visit, he said he was ready to decide, though he still had not set official visits to Ohio State or Pittsburgh. That same day, however, Foster was talked out of making a decision.

As time passed and he officially visited Pittsburgh, it looked as if the Panthers would keep Foster in the Pittsburgh area.

The commitment of Foster to Alabama brings some redemption for a coaching staff that missed out on 2012 ESPN 150 running back Rushel Shell, who chose Pitt over Alabama last fall and was one of the top freshmen in the country this season.

Clements has a message for Tide coach Nick Saban, who she has yet to speak with since Foster committed.

"Bama better treat my baby right."