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SoCon coaches tab Foster offensive player of the year
Nine Eagles pick up All-SoCon honors
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Georgia Southern senior quarterback Jayson Foster, center, was named the Southern Conference offensive player of the year by league coaches Monday. Above, Foster scores a touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter against South Dakota State on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Paulson Stadium. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file
    Jayson Foster was outstanding all season and league coaches took notice, naming Georgia Southern’s senior quarterback the Southern Conference offensive player of the year Monday.
    “It’s a great honor,” said Foster, who learned about his accolade Monday afternoon from first-year coach Chris Hatcher. “An award like this shows off our team and talent. It was more than just me on offense.”
    Foster, a Walter Payton Award finalist, shined in his return to the helm this year, setting the NCAA Division I mark for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback (1,844). He also broke single-season GSU records for total offense (3,047) and plays (431), and his rushing total this fall was second-most in school history and third-best in the SoCon record books.
    “I call him the most exciting player in football – any level, any division,” Furman coach Bobby Lamb said earlier this year. “He’s probably the best player pound-for-pound that I’ve seen. He can dominate a game like no other. It all starts with him. He’s the X-factor. He makes all the difference in the world.”
    A total of nine Eagles were named to All-SoCon teams Monday. Along with Foster, first-team selections included senior offensive tackle Russell Orr and junior defensive end Larry Beard. Senior offensive guards Marcelo Estrada and Brad Williams, senior running back Lamar Lewis, junior defensive end Damon Suggs, junior defensive back Chris Covington and junior placekicker Jesse Hartley received All-SoCon second-team honors.
    Hatcher catered this year’s offense around the speedy Foster, who was grossly underutilized last season as a receiver. This fall Foster returned to the role he flourished in during 2005 when he directed the Eagles’ triple option attack. Led by the senior, GSU rebound quickly from last season’s three-win campaign, finishing 7-4 — a few plays away from a conference title and a playoff berth.
    “He’s one of the best players I’ve been fortunate enough to coach,” Hatcher said. “He’s the backbone of our football team.”
    This season, Foster accounted for 30 touchdowns — 24 rushing and six passing — passed for 1,203 yards and scored 144 points. The league freshman of the year in 2004, he finished his remarkable career with 18 100-yard rushing games and 22 multiple-touchdown games.
    “He’s an absolute freak,” junior safety Chris Covington said following Foster’s six-touchdown night against Coastal Carolina in September. “Nobody knows how he does what he does. I don’t think he knows. He’s amazing. He’s a great athlete, and to be completely honest, he’s a better person than he is an athlete. He’s an awesome person to root for.”
    Foster joined Eagle greats Adrian Peterson (1998, 2001), Greg Hill (1999), Chaz Williams (2002) and Jermaine Austin (2003) as the only GSU players to win SoCon offensive player of the year honors.
    “He is Mr. Amazing,” junior receiver Raja Andrews said. “Everything he does, everything I see, I try to imitate.”