Reported transfer target could create intrigue for KU football, track and field

photo by: AP Photo/Sam Craft

Texas A&M offensive lineman Bryce Foster (61) waits to snap a ball against Kent State during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in College Station, Texas.

The Kansas football team is reportedly targeting a player who could reshape its offensive line, even without having participated in spring practice.

That wouldn’t be anything new for transfer center Bryce Foster, who is used to being otherwise occupied in the spring.

The former Texas A&M lineman did not enroll early with the Aggies as a freshman in 2021 because he was competing in the discus and the shot put for his high school, Taylor High in Katy, Texas. He has also thrown the shot put in place of taking spring reps for the past two offseasons of his collegiate career, according to The Bryan-College Station Eagle.

In fact, Foster competed in the NCAA track and field regionals Wednesday night, recording a distance of 18.55 meters for a season-best finish and vastly exceeding his pre-meet ranking of No. 36. But he missed out on the top-12 threshold for national championship qualification by one place.

Looking ahead, JayhawkSlant has reported that Foster will pay a visit to the KU football team as he now seeks a potential transfer destination with two years of eligibility remaining.

Indeed, besides being No. 5 and No. 6 in A&M’s all-time outdoor and indoor shot-put rankings, respectively, he happens to be quite a good football player, albeit one whose career has been hampered by injuries.

Foster, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds and has earned the nickname “The Mountain,” was a four-star prospect ranked as one of the nation’s top interior linemen out of high school. He quickly delivered on that promise as a freshman at the highest levels of college football even after missing the spring, starting all 12 games with a solid Pro Football Focus grade of 69.2, and was named to freshman All-America teams by The Athletic and the Football Writers Association of America.

His career in College Station took a turn from there. In his second season he battled illness before suffering a season-ending torn ACL.

He was able to retain a year of football eligibility by redshirting, and returned to the track the following winter.

Foster then assumed the starting center spot once more as a redshirt sophomore, but graded out substantially worse at 60.1 — still, about on par with KU’s starter last year, Mike Novitsky.

Novitsky’s graduation left the Jayhawks with a hole in the middle of their offensive line. They snagged Tiffin transfer center Shane Bumgardner in the winter portal window, though he did not immediately claim the starting role in his opening months in Lawrence, leaving guard Michael Ford Jr. as a possibility to take on that spot. Ford had previous experience snapping the ball but told the Journal-World in the spring that he was bringing a different mentality to the position this year.

“I feel like I’m taking it more personal to me for the O-line’s success because we don’t have a person like (Novitsky) here anymore,” he said. “So I take the O-line play real personal this year.”

Acquiring Foster would help pick up any slack left by Bumgardner’s transition while also giving Ford a chance to remain at his natural position of guard — which would then become one of KU’s deeper positions with multiple reserve options in winter transfer Darrell Simmons Jr., spring transfer Amir Herring and longtime backup Nolan Gorczyca. On the other hand, it could reduce Bumgardner’s role to near zero, as it’s not clear yet whether he would be able to cross-train at any other offensive line spots.

But it would help KU upgrade at a position of need — and obviate the need to address that position next offseason. Foster clearly learned quickly enough to start for an SEC team as a true freshman and might be able to make a similar transition over the summer for KU, if he ultimately were to decide to come to Lawrence.

Foster already visited USC at the start of May, 247Sports reported.

One open question is how much of a role the KU track staff might need to play in this recruitment process. It’s not the No. 2 program in the country like A&M, but if Foster wants to continue throwing, as he had throughout his A&M tenure, Stanley Redwine and company do have some history of success in that realm. (And the Jayhawks are No. 20 nationally in the same poll.) Sheldon Battle (2006), Mason Finley (2010) and Nicolai Ceban (2017) have won indoor conference titles in the men’s shot put since Redwine took over at KU in 2001, and Finley matched that feat twice on the indoor side. All earned All-American honors in the event.

KU’s throws coach, Doug Reynolds, is in just his second season at the school, but Reynolds was a national champion in the shot put himself at the junior-college level and over the course of his career has coached four NCAA individual title winners.

Former Jayhawk Patrick Larrison, who graduated in 2023, was a recent success story in the men’s shot put at KU and had a pretty similar personal best in the shot put to Foster’s (19.90 indoor versus 19.73 outdoor). Even more recently, during this year’s indoor season, Jacob Cookinham set a personal record of 18.21 meters as a freshman to win Kansas State’s Steve Miller Invitational.

As The Eagle reported in its article about Foster’s departure from Texas A&M, the Aggies had some precedent for dual-sport athletes between football and track in the form of running back De’Von Achane, who is now with the Miami Dolphins.

The KU football team under Lance Leipold initially featured a couple of dual-sport athletes in Trevor Kardell and Devin Neal, who played baseball, but both had signed for two-sport participation before his arrival and eventually gave up baseball prior to the spring of 2023 (at which point the Jayhawks also had a new baseball coach in Dan Fitzgerald).

Actively recruiting a player with the sorts of obligations Foster has demonstrated to his secondary sport would be uncharted territory for Leipold at Kansas, but it might also be worth it to improve the outlook of the KU offensive line for the next two seasons.

photo by: AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Texas A&M offensive lineman Bryce Foster (61) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Starkville, Miss.


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