It’s a long way from Newburgh to the Canadian oil city of Edmonton but Angelo Foster is only happy to make that move.
Once the coronavirus shutdown is lifted, Foster will begin his professional football career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
Foster made his break with a productive showing at the College Football Showcase combine in Fort Worth, Texas, in January. The SUNY Cortland wide receiver wasn’t on the radar of most professional teams but his performance during two days of individual drills bought him an extra four days of evaluation, with Division I prospects. When it was over, the Eskimos offered Foster a two-year contract, a deal he finalized on Tuesday.
Foster, who has never traveled to Canada, said he isn’t going to forget the supporters when his unlikely journey starts.
“Proving people wrong is not what pushes me forward or motivates me,” said Foster, who caught 37 passes for 550 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. “It's more proving the people right who believed in me and proving the people right that saw the potential in me.”
Foster played youth football but his original high school, Chapel Field, didn’t offer the sport. After transferring to Newburgh Free Academy, Foster became a four-year starter in lacrosse and set the school record for the indoor 55-meter hurdles. His parents, Melissa and Orlando Rodriguez, urged their son to try football again. It took Foster a season to pick up football schemes and his first meaningful snaps came during his senior season.
“From that point on, he made the most of his opportunity,” said Newburgh coach Bill Bianco. “He was always so fast. It was just learning how to become a receiver. It's just learning the nuances. He was always a kid who you’d see at the field always trying to get extra work in.”
Foster’s speed is what separates him for other prospects. He’s run a hand-timed 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds. His lateral quickness makes Foster a difficult matchup.
Foster’s burst speed and instincts made him a standout special teams player at Cortland – he blocked three kicks his senior season. The turning point in his college career came during his sophomore season. Foster was leading the team in receptions and receiving yards but broke his arm in the seventh game.
“That moment put things in perspective for me,” said Foster, who is 6-foot and 175 pounds. “I was like, ‘If this is something that I want to do, then I'm really going to have to take it serious. Coming back from that injury is what really pushed me into high gear and play to the potential I had.”
With his pro debut ahead, Foster continues to push himself. He’s already connected with Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris, talking about plays and receiver routes.
The CFL is a pass-dominated league, with receivers allowed to go in forward motion before the snap, and the longer and wider field favors receivers. There are 11 teams in the CFL, prompting several byes per season for each team during a 21-week regular-season. The schedule was supposed to begin June 11 but is on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has halted almost every professional league in the world.
The pride of representing Newburgh in Canada further fuels Foster.
“I'm very thankful for everything that's happened,” Foster said. “The ups and downs, they come. But that won't stop you. I just want to be that light to people showing that they don't have to settle and that can attain what they want to do. You just got to believe.”