Aug. 4, 2012
Former UCLA running back DeShaun Foster is back on campus after a successful NFL career with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. In addition to working on finishing up his degree, he is volunteering with the football program. UCLABruins.com recently caught up with Foster in the J.D. Morgan Center before he headed out to the team's summer training camp in San Bernardino.
Q: Welcome back to Westwood. How has it changed since you were last here?
A: The construction is still going on (laughs), but the school still looks great. I'm enjoying it.
Q: What made you decide to come back after all these years?
A: My goal when I got to the NFL was to graduate before my little sister, but she just finished up at UCR, so I knew it was time for me.
Q: Talk about your path back to UCLA after a successful NFL career.
A: I was drafted by the Carolina Panthers, played six seasons there, went to a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games and then played a year in San Francisco. Since then, I have been working with my foundation in Orange County.
Q: What is your foundation and what does it do?
A: It's the Foster 26 Foundation, and we work with group homes in Orange County and sponsor a college scholarship for one kid each year.
Q: Other than your foundation's activities, how have you kept busy since retiring from the NFL?
A: I have been running a football camp and other football-related things such as helping out the program at my high school.
Q: How rewarding has it been to go back to your high school and help the people that helped you as a kid?
A: My former coach is still there, so it was very rewarding. It felt good to give back to the community that helped me such much.
Q: Did you know Jim Mora before you got involved with the program here at UCLA?
A: He had coached teams that I played against in the NFL, but I did not know him personally.
Q: Do you have a message for the Bruin fans now that you are back in Westwood?
A: Get ready, this program is going to doing exciting things in the future!
Q: What did you see in the program here that made you want to be involved?
A: Coming out to spring practice, the energy of the coaches was clear. It has carried over to the players and has the program moving in the right direction. Everybody was flying around the field, and that's a great sign.
Q: Speaking from your experience in the NFL, how important is it to have the intensity of a head coach like Jim Mora and the focus to ensure success?
A: Intensity is the number one key to success. If your head coach is locked in like that, the assistants and players will follow. The coach is making himself accountable, and the players will not want to let him down. If the kids follow the lead of Coach Mora, the sky is the limit. To have a head coach who has been in the NFL the majority of his adult life makes it easier to listen to him. He's been there, no matter what the situation may be.
Q: Your first "assignment" as a volunteer with the program is camp in San Bernardino. How important are preseason camps to a team?
A: This is the time that the players bond with one another. It's all about blood, sweat and tears. The players need to enjoy themselves but also know that this is going to be a hard time for them. You just have get in there and get it done ... stay hydrated and get out there and enjoy the game, you will not be playing football forever.