Marvin Foster arrived at Missouri as a star defensive end from North Crowley (Texas) High School with all the earmarks of a contributor entering his freshman season.
Then, Foster tore up a knee during an early-season practice as a true freshman.
Returning as a redshirt freshman in 2010, Foster suffered a torn pectoral muscle during the preseason, but he managed to return and play in five games, making two tackles.
He played in four games the following year and finished with three tackles before appearing in 10 games last season, recording eight tackles and earning a bachelor’s degree in health sciences.
Foster — a native of Fort Worth who chose the Tigers over Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Stanford, TCU and Baylor among others — was enjoying his best season before tearing the biceps tendon in Saturday’s 31-3 win against Tennessee.
Now, Foster’s career, which includes eight tackles and a half-tackle for a loss this season, appears to be finished.
“Marvin, it crushed my heart,” Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said. “No. 1, I recruited the kid. God’s got a plan for everything. I really believe that, but it was just tough to see him in the hospital bed again. I just love Marvin so much.”
Foster could have walked away after last season. He’s already earned his degree and the Tigers struggled through a 5-7 campaign in the program’s first year in the Southeastern Conference.
“He’s already graduated from Mizzou and came back for graduate school,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “A lot of guys with that many injuries would not come back. They’ve had enough.”
Instead, Foster persevered and helped contribute to the Tigers’ turnaround.
While he may never see the field again, Foster will be asked to persevere a little more and help Missouri finish the 2013 season strong anyway.
“Not only was he having a great year on the field, but he was doing a great — a phenomenal job — of leadership,” Steckel said. “The but part there, and I told him last night in the hospital … we still need his leadership.”
Steckel continued, “He can still be a great stabilizing force for Harold (Brantley) and Josh (Augusta) and all those guys.”
With Foster out, Augusta, a true freshman from Peoria, Ill., has been promoted to backup defensive tackle behind junior Matt Hoch.
“Josh has really done well,” Pinkel said. “It’s asking an awful lot of a freshman to come in and play. It’s just a lot, a lot on his plate. But he’s really done a good job. He’s had a great attitude. I think he’ll be an exceptional player. … Obviously, he will get more reps than he has in the past.”