Missouri hopes Sidney Lanier quarterback James Foster II from Montgomery, Ala., will become something of a Pied Piper for its 2018 recruiting class, encouraging other top prospects to follow him to Columbia.
Foster, who committed to the Tigers via Twitter on Wednesday, told The Star by phone that he welcomes such responsibility.
“They said I’m a leader, so I’ve got to recruit the people I want,” Foster said.
It’s a role that’s part recruiter and part cheerleader, requiring communication with other prospects and a positive Mizzou-centric social media presence similar to the role Bessemer (Ala.) City High linebacker Jamal Brooks filled during last year’s recruiting cycle.
Foster, who visited Missouri on March 11 for the first scrimmage of spring practice, already has other ESPN 300 prospects in his sights, including four-star Christian Brothers College wide receiver Kamryn Babb from St. Louis.
“We actually don’t know each other, but, when I took my visit up there to his area, the coaches told me about him,” Foster said of Babb. “He followed me on Twitter and we’ve been talking ever since.”
Most top prospects will wait until the summer camp season or perhaps even next winter to make a decision, but Foster committed early because “I just felt like it was the right time,” he said.
Now, he’ll have more time to work convincing Babb and other players to join him at Mizzou.
“Definitely, I’ll be talking to him about joining me at Missouri,” Foster said.
Foster perked up when he was reminded that there are plenty of other talented kids in the Show-Me State’s 2018 recruiting class.
“Trevor Trout, I need to get him, too,” Foster said. “I need to be talking with a lot of guys.”
That group also includes Babb’s teammate, three-star receiver Cameron Brown; Foster’s Lanier teammate Alfred Thomas, a four-star defensive end rated No. 245 in the ESPN 300; and fellow Montgomery native JaKorey Hawkins, a cornerback from Lee High.
Foster said his relationship with MU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel is a big reason for his comfort in committing.
“He has a great background,” Foster said. “He was a runner-up for the Heisman and he coached a Heisman-winning quarterback, so I feel like he can develop me as a quarterback.”
Foster sees similarities in his high school offense and the Tigers’ offense under Heupel last season.
“When we go spread, I see Missouri running the same stuff,” Foster said. “I should be able to pick things up pretty quick. … I just feel like the system is right for me and I fit the system. It’s going to be a great place for me.”
Foster, who was bumped up to a four-star prospect and No. 89 overall in 2018 ESPN 300 recruiting rankings, is among the top dual-threat quarterbacks in next fall’s senior class.
ESPN pegs him No. 5 at the position, while Rivals ranks Foster as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback, 247 Sports lists him at No. 22 and Scout rates him as the No. 48 overall quarterback.
Foster said he probably won’t sign until next February, even if the proposed early-signing period (December) is adopted in June, because he plays basketball for Lanier.