Backup Bulldog stands in the shadows
When a football team has two quality running backs, it's often referred to as a one-two punch. Minnesota Duluth calls its backfield tandem a one-one punch. That's because the Bulldogs hold senior backup Brad Foss in such high regard. Foss, of Mah...
When a football team has two quality running backs, it's often referred to as a one-two punch.
Minnesota Duluth calls its backfield tandem a one-one punch.
That's because the Bulldogs hold senior backup Brad Foss in such high regard.
Foss, of Mahtomedi, Minn., returned from a shoulder injury last week to run six times for 48 yards and his first touchdown of the season to help the second-ranked Bulldogs beat Bemidji State 44-21.
When Foss is healthy, UMD feels its offensive rhythm doesn't miss a beat when he replaces All-American Isaac Odim.
"It's flattering anyone would even consider me along with Isaac," Foss said of the one-one punch. "He's a phenomenal back, so if I'm doing anything that he's doing, I'm sure it's the right thing."
Odim, a finalist for the Harlon Hill candidate for NCAA Division II player of the year, is UMD's all-time leading rusher. Odim has rushed for 3,908 yards and 66 touchdowns in less than three full seasons for the Bulldogs, helping guide UMD to its first national football title in 2008.
While Odim's numbers have been impressive, Foss has also put up remarkable numbers considering his backup role. Foss has rushed 352 times for 1,967 yards, good for a 5.6-yard per carry average, and 19 touchdowns. Foss also has 455 receiving yards and two more scores.
Foss earned second-team all-conference honors last season and will likely finish in the top 10 in rushing all-time at UMD, and if he stays healthy, he is a long shot to catch Amory Bodin (1976-78, 1980) for fifth on the Bulldogs' career rushing chart at 2,662 yards.
UMD coach Bob Nielson called Odim and Foss the best tandem of running backs he has had in 17 seasons as a college coach.
"The numbers Brad has put up are a testimony to him, and his ability to understand his role is critically important," Nielson said. "We wouldn't have been as successful the last couple years without him.
"Brad is certainly talented enough to be the featured back, but he is obviously playing in the shadow of a very good football player. Some people might not appreciate just how good of a back he is, but we do."
Foss also has an affable personality. With flowing blond hair, the 6-foot-0, 205-pound Foss looked like a professional wrestler until this year, when he trimmed his locks for a more streamlined look.
"I'm not going to say it was because of my mom," Foss said, laughing, "but it was because of my mom. I hope I'm faster. There's a little less resistance into the wind, so that feels pretty nice, and you save a lot of money on shampoo."
UMD doesn't run timed 40-yard dashes, but receiver Justin Claiborne, who also runs track, along with D.J. Winfield, Cody Eich and Odim are considered perhaps the Bulldogs fastest players. Foss isn't far behind, and he runs with power and vision. He is also good in pass protection.
"It's always great having someone you can insert into the offense and not lose anything," Odim said. "Brad has always been good about working hard and not worrying about getting the accolades. He's happy to help the team in any way he can. A lot of people think Brad would be the starter on just about any other team in the league, and I think that's absolutely true. That's a luxury we have."
Foss scoffs at the notion of playing for anyone else. The health and physical education major has enjoyed his time at UMD. He plans on going into teaching and possibly coaching, and he wouldn't mind staying in the area.
"I've got no regrets coming to UMD. Not at all," Foss said. "I've never thought about what it'd be like to be a starter anywhere else because I'm definitely happy to be here. I get plenty of playing time. We run the ball a lot, and getting every other series with the Duluth Bulldogs has been more than a privilege. That other stuff isn't a concern of mine. It's always been, 'We're winning. I'm playing. We're all happy.'"