Division I dreams

Eric Foote decided to try out for football when he started his freshman year. That turned out to be a pretty good idea.

Football

September 06, 2006|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,sun reporter

When Eric Foote started high school at Southern, he had never played football because he was always too big for the weight-restricted youth leagues.

"I had played baseball my whole life, and they had a meeting for football at school, and I decided to try something new," said Foote, who was 6 foot 1 and 255 pounds as a freshman.

"I went out to see how it was, and have loved it ever since. By the end of that first year, I weighed 213 because I lost so much weight during the two-a-day practices. It was so hot that first year."

Foote is now a 6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound senior linebacker-fullback and a Division I prospect. He has received scholarship offers from James Madison and Towson universities and has drawn interest from Temple, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Maryland after playing well at seven summer camps.

"His size is a lot different now from when he was a freshman," said 12th-year coach Russ Meyers, who has had only one other Division I player at Southern, Anne Arundel County's smallest high school.

"He took a lot of that weight off and put muscle back on. And his speed has improved every year because of the weightlifting and running. He has that natural size and quickness that you can't teach."

SuperPrep.com and Scout.com wrote that Foote "has quick feet and great technique. He has an explosive first step that usually drives the offensive player back."

Foote played junior varsity football his freshman year but was called up to the varsity for the playoffs and impressed Meyers. By his sophomore season, Foote was an All-County defensive tackle.

"Some of the plays he made his sophomore year, you could see he was a real good prospect and has a chance [at college]," Meyers said.

His progress stalled in his junior year, however. Foote, who had a nagging heel injury that limited his time, ran for five touchdowns and recorded four sacks for the Bulldogs.

Last spring he found himself watching the NFL's combine testing of college prospects before the draft on television and became convinced he could play at the next level. "I was like, `I think I could be out there doing the same stuff they're doing,'" said Foote, who lifts weights four days a week and runs the other three days.

"So I figured I needed to give Division I and I-AA college a shot and went to seven camps this summer. It paid off in getting my name out there."

It helped that he ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash at the Virginia Tech camp.

"At the Maryland camp, they switched him around," Meyers said. "He played some fullback ... defensive end and linebacker. Being a decent athlete with some versatility like he has, he could play different positions. For us, his best position will be linebacker.

"I mean a 250-pound linebacker. You don't see that in high school a lot."

Foote, who is listed as an inside linebacker hopeful by Rivals.com, qualifies academically with a 2.5 grade point average in his core subjects and a 960 score on his SAT.

"You need an 860 to qualify for the NCAA clearinghouse, but I'm not happy with the 960 and will take it again," said Foote, who wants to major in sports medicine and has set a goal to be an All-Metro selection this fall.

"I'm hoping to get an offer from Maryland soon, but I'm waiting on scores and understand the importance of being a good student."

The support of his parents, Yvette and Eric Foote Sr., who also played as a running back at Southern, has been vital.

"Without my parents and God, I probably wouldn't be anything," Foote said. "My parents come to all my games, no matter what, and I really appreciate it."

Foote said last year's 3-7 team lacked leadership from the players, and that he and the other seniors plan to change that.

"I'm getting attention," said Foote, who gave credit to his coaches and teammates for contributing to his success, "but I'm just one person on a team trying to make something happen."

pat.omalley@baltsun.com

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