Derrick Foster will fill Iowa’s 10th football assistant coach spot. There’s a person in the chair, it’s just a matter of where everyone will sit when the 2018 season begins in around two months with spring practice.
Iowa announced Foster’s hiring on Tuesday. His hiring comes as a result of the NCAA allowing FBS programs to add a 10th full-time assistant.
Foster will coach on the offensive side of the ball, allowing tight ends coach LeVar Woods to spend more attention to special teams. Specific coaching assignments will be announced later, but Ferentz announced last fall that Woods will become the special teams coordinator.
Foster joins the Iowa staff after serving the last two seasons as running backs coach and running game coordinator at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Foster has coached wide receivers and running backs at Tennessee, Northwestern State University and Valdosta State University.
“Derrick is an outstanding person and has built an impressive resume with experience at multiple levels of college football,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “He has an impressive record of success on the recruiting trail that will strengthen and expand our existing efforts.”
Maybe linebackers coach Seth Wallace made this connection? Wallace, a Grinnell native and Coe College graduate, returned to the Iowa staff in 2016 from Valdosta State University, where he served as defensive coordinator from 2010-13. Foster coached wide receivers there in 2011, but he also had a hand in special teams.
The last time he spoke publicly, Ferentz covered his plans for special teams and for Wallace.
“That’s part of the plan that I announced last year to see him (Woods) transitioning into that role and free Seth up to more defensively, more quality time on the defense, which he’s kind of been doing two jobs and so I think that will help fortify the efforts in the defensive room, just give him one thing to concentrate on,” Ferentz said. “I think it will help our special teams and I thought LeVar did a great job with that transition this year, he was tremendous. Seems really comfortable in that role.”
Foster is a native of Goshen, Ala. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management from Southwest Baptist in 2010 and a master’s in public administration from Valdosta State University in 2013.
“My wife, Bianca, and I are excited to be afforded this wonderful opportunity to become a part of the Iowa family as well as the Iowa City community,” Foster said in a statement. “Our journey is continuing, as this provides us with the opportunity to be part of a great staff and a University that is committed to excellence. I have a lot of respect for the stability and commitment of coach Ferentz and his longevity with the program. I feel fortunate and look forward to working with coach Ferentz and his dedicated staff.”
The likely scenario is that Foster takes over running backs from offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, freeing Ferentz to move to the tight ends. Brian Ferentz coached tight ends with the New England Patriots. But “likely” isn’t written with Sharpie. There could be other combinations or Foster could just roam where the most bodies are or where he’s needed most, probably between running backs and wide receivers.
Foster joined the Samford staff from Northwestern State University in Louisiana, where he coached running backs in 2013 and wide receivers in 2014-2015. While at Northwestern State, Foster tutored some of the top receivers in program history.
“Our goal was to use this additional coaching position to help us in multiple areas, and we did that,” Ferentz said. “We gained Derrick as a coach, we bolstered our recruiting capabilities, and we strengthened our commitment to special teams by allowing LeVar Woods to focus entirely on a significant phase of our game.”
The recruiting element to this hire is pretty apparent. Iowa knows it needs to have a presence in the southeast. That’s Foster.
Foster was an assistant coach at Tennessee in 2012, assisting the offensive coordinator and assisting as running backs coach. He held office recruiting duties for junior colleges in California, Texas, Kansas, New York, Arizona and Illinois.
Iowa offered more than 30 scholarships in Georgia for the 2016-17 classes and got one taker (Trey Creamer).
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“Instead of driving 12 hours here, they (NC State star Bradley Chubb’s family) drove whatever, three or four hours, to Raleigh,” Ferentz said. “Kind of dawned on me at that point we might be spinning our wheels in Atlanta recruiting. It makes sense, mom and dad go to a four-hour place instead of a 12-hour place.”
But you can never be done recruiting the south if you’re a serious college football team and Ferentz knows that. Wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland is from Miami, Fla., and does recruit that area. With Foster’s ties, it’s not a stretch to think he’ll also recruit the southeast.
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