University of Alabama

Alabama LB Foster lighter, faster for 2016 season

In this file photo from Nov. 8, 2014, LSU returner Tre’Davious White is tackled by Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (10) in the first half in Baton Rouge, La.
In this file photo from Nov. 8, 2014, LSU returner Tre’Davious White is tackled by Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (10) in the first half in Baton Rouge, La. Associated Press

Call it Alabama’s small-ball lineup.

According to senior linebacker Reuben Foster, Alabama’s defense is slimming down this season in order to improve its speed on the field.

“Faster,” Foster said while describing the defense. “Most of us are losing weight, it’s just sideline-to-sideline and the speed of the game.”

Foster himself has made a dramatic change, going from 240 pounds last season to around 225 pounds at the start of fall camp. The senior says he made the switch after suffering knee problems which limited his mobility.

He credits the drop in weight to team nutritionist Amy Bragg, who has helped him develop a better eating schedule this summer. So far the move has payed off, as he claims to feel more agile on the field.

“I’m more explosive,” Foster said. “It might sound strange to be 225 at linebacker, but it feels great. My knees aren’t hurting. My back isn’t hurting. It feels great.”

That new burst of speed is not exclusive to just Foster. The linebacker believes Alabama’s ability to move around the field better will be its biggest strength on defense this season.

“The whole defense is explosive, not just the inside linebackers,” Foster said. “We’ve got the DBs, the defensive linemen, all of them are explosive.”

While Foster returns to the field smaller than last year, his role on the team will be increased. With the departure of Reggie Ragland to the NFL, Foster takes over as the leader in the middle of the Tide’s defense.

Foster said he learned a lot from Ragland, especially when it came to fighting through hardships and lifting other teammates up. Now, he looks forward to being able to give that support back.

“It feels great knowing somebody has trust in me to give me a leadership role,” Foster said.

Foster finished last season with 73 tackles, eight for a loss, to go with two sacks and nine pass breakups. This preseason, he has been teamed up with junior Shaun Dion Hamilton in the first group of Alabama’s inside linebackers unit.

As the quarterback of Alabama’s defense, Foster will be relied on to make sure his teammates are in the right places at all times. He relishes his new-found leadership role and said it’s a good feeling knowing the team feels comfortable taking orders from him on the field.

“It feels great knowing that you know what to do,” Foster said. “You don’t have any anxiety. You feel free. You love the game of football, and you worship it. You can just line your boys up and just get to playing.”

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