Trieu: MSU sees ‘special’ potential in Montorie Foster despite one season of football

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

The rise of Montorie Foster from basketball player who had not put on a helmet since 7th grade to holding a Big Ten football scholarship from Michigan State is nothing short of remarkable.

Foster, a senior at Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward, is a very good basketball player who was always working on his pursuit of a hoops scholarship. That pursuit often had him shooting in the gym at 6:30 in the morning right next to the football team, which was working out opposite of him. They would playfully harass him about coming to catch passes and he would smile and continue shooting.

Montorie Foster

St. Edward head football coach Tom Lombardo had seen it since middle school. Lombardo’s son and Foster are in the same grade and played middle school basketball against one another. When Foster decided to attend St. Edward, Lombardo made a pitch for him to come back to football, which he had given up in 7th grade. Foster declined.

Lombardo watched him on the basketball court over the next few years and saw the athleticism and told Foster that if college football coaches saw that, he would have the potential to earn a scholarship. Foster again declined. Then, shortly before the start of two-a-days, just before his senior season, Foster picked up the phone.

“The last week of July he called me,” Lombardo said. “I don’t know how many scholarship offers he had in basketball, but he said he wanted to come out for football and see what it was all about.”

Foster had to catch up fast. Lombardo said he did not know the game well when he started, so the St. Edward staff put him at cornerback, thinking it was easier to cover a man or an area than learn all of the offensive formations, routes and develop timing with the quarterbacks. Just over a week in, it was starting to come along but not as fast as Foster had hoped.

He asked to be moved to offense and the coaches obliged, but with a large program (215 players in grades 9 through 12), he had to rotate with other kids. There would be flashes of the talent, though. Then, the season began with two tough teams right off the bat.

“The first game, we play Mentor, a really good program, and we taught him one route to run and he caught one pass for 20 yards. I think he played one play,” Lombardo said. “The next game, we had somebody injured and we were playing (Detroit) Cass Tech with the (Kalen) King kid and he made a really acrobatic catch on him. He had 120 yards that game and we said we might have something special. So I called some MAC coaches that I knew and said, ‘Hey you should take a look at this kid.’”

Some of those MAC coaches did offer. After seeing his regular-season film, Michigan State became the first Power Five school to offer a scholarship. He visits the Spartans this weekend. When asked how Foster is handling the attention, Lombardo was not entirely certain.

“I don’t know because he’s really humble,” Lombardo said. “He is a great kid on and off the field. I think he feels really blessed.”

His willingness to work and learn the game is a large part of this meteoric rise and is something that should continue to move his trajectory upward as he gets to college.

“He can be even better once he gets comfortable and gains an understanding of the game. Once he gets the concepts, he is going to be special,” Lombardo said. “It has been a lot of study halls with us going over routes and formations with him. He has already improved in that area 100 percent and that is with him only playing since August 1st. Once he gets the concepts, he is going to be special. He has already improved 100 percent in that area, but that is with him playing since August 1st. It shows his humility that he was willing to sit down and learn it all.”

Foster is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 27 senior prospect in the state of Ohio.

Another senior visitor

Shaker Heights (Ohio) defensive end Avery Dunn will be on campus this weekend. Michigan State was the first Power Five offer for the 6-foot-4, 216-pound Dunn and this will be his first opportunity to get to campus now that his senior season is completed. West Virginia is the main competition for the Spartans in this recruitment currently.

New offer in Indianapolis

Indianapolis Ben Davis junior Daylan Carnell, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete who is likely headed for the defensive backfield in college, was offered a scholarship by Michigan State.

Carnell has also been offered by Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue and several others.

The Spartans currently have one Indiana native on their roster, freshman offensive lineman Damon Kaylor.

More information

Montorie Foster profile

Avery Dunn profile

Daylan Carnell profile

Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at