Nick Saban had nothing but positives to say about the football character of his Butkus Award-winning linebacker Reuben Foster at Alabama’s Pro Day on Wednesday.
Foster made headlines for all of the wrong reasons a week ago in Indianapolis when he was unceremoniously booted from the NFL Scouting Combine following an altercation (reportedly verbal) with a hospital official during the medical evaluations.
“If you’re looking for a good teammate to be on your team, Reuben’s going to be very, very good,” Saban told reporters following a workout attended by an estimated 75 NFL talent evaluators, including head coaches Bill Belichick (Patriots), Pete Carroll (Seahawks) and Todd Bowles (Jets). “If you’re looking for somebody to be a candy striper and be nice to everybody at the hospital, maybe not.”
Foster did not work out Wednesday while recovering from shoulder surgery, which may have played a part in the delayed medical evaluation that led to his frustration.
Foster did not speak to reporters during the workout but his former head coach stumped for him.
“I absolutely have (spoken to Foster about the Combine incident). Reuben has been a great player for us here. I think that if anybody here asks someone eight or 10 times, ‘Am I in the right place? Is my name on the list? Why have I had to stay here for so long?’ and nobody will respond to you, I think it would probably create a little anxiety for all of us,” Saban said. “And I know that Reuben wishes that he would have responded maybe in a little more positive way. But I think other people could have responded and been a little more respectful to him as well.”
Foster is one of five projected first-round picks for Alabama, joining defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, tight end O.J. Howard, edge rusher Tim Williams and cornerback Marlon Humphrey, each of whom stood on their Combine workouts and competed in only positional drills Wednesday.
Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart did a little more, posting 22 and 10 repetitions in the bench press, respectively. Each is projected as a possible third-round selection by NFLDraftScout.com.
While few expected any of Alabama’s top prospects to compete again after such a short layoff since the Combine, it was thought that Allen, in particular, might want a second chance after a somewhat disappointing performance in Indianapolis, including a 5.0 time in the 40-yard dash after measuring just under 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds.
Allen did not appear as quick or flexible as Tomlinson (6-3, 310) during arc drills that were part of Wednesday’s workout, though the reigning Bednarik and Nagurski Award winner’s production (69 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks) speaks for itself.
One relatively unheralded player who may have helped his stock Wednesday was Bowling Green graduate transfer Gehrig Dieter (6-2, 210 pounds), who reportedly dropped just one pass during the throwing session and was clocked between 4.58-4.62 in the 40-yard dash with a 32-foot, 5-inch vertical jump and 9-11 broad jump.
“It was very big for him,” Howard said when asked about Dieter. “He came out and ran great routes. He did a really good job. It’s huge. He didn’t get a lot of opportunities (last season). But this guy has a lot of film, especially from Bowling Green. I know he’s a good receiver. So, he’ll be fine.”
–Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed in partnership with The Sports Xchange and CBSSports.com.