Foster To Coach ECU Running Backs
GREENVILLE, N.C. – Chris Foster has been named running backs coach at East Carolina University according to an announcement from head football coach Mike Houston on Monday.
His appointment to the Pirates’ staff extends a 17-year collegiate coaching career, which includes a recent five-season assignment in a similar role at Georgia Southern where he helped lead the Eagles to three consecutive bowl appearances and played a key role for an offensive unit that collectively, from 2018 to 2020, ranked second nationally at the FBS level in total rushing yards with 10,225.
In addition to directing GS’s running backs, Foster served as the program’s recruiting coordinator and was elevated to associate head coach status in 2019.
Prior to his tenure in Statesboro, he provided 12 years of positional leadership to ball-carriers at Maryville (2015), Appalachian State (2012-2014) and alma mater Gardner-Webb (2004-2011). In all, Foster has mentored 12 all-conference selections, a pair of All-America honorees, a league rookie-of-the-year pick and produced five National Football League players.
“Chris’ credentials are wide-ranging and certainly well-respected in our business,” Houston said. “His reputation as a leader and communicator runs deep and have few equals in our business and we’re thrilled he is a Pirate. In addition to his documented success in the run game, his relationships and ties in our state and region will provide quite a recruiting impact for our program.”
Foster’s unit combined to rush for 2,427 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2020 as the Eagle offense stood first in the Sun Belt Conference and fifth in the country in average rushing yards per game (267.1 ypg) while recording an 8-5 mark and posting a dominating 38-3 win over Louisiana Tech in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. He was also Georgia Southern’s nominee for the Broyles Award, which is annually given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
The Eagles ranked seventh among all FBS teams a year earlier with a 253.2 ground yards per game clip. Individually, Wesley Kennedy III tallied 11 rushing touchdowns in just nine games and teamed with J.D. King to combine for over 1,600 yards rushing and 19 scores.
Georgia Southern captured another SBC rushing title and finished seventh nationally in 2018 with a 266.2 average on the way to a 10-3 record and a Raycom Media Camellia Bowl title after downing Eastern Michigan 23-21. Junior pupil Wesley Fields surpassed the 1,000-yard mark and became the first player in school history to lead the team in rushing and receiving yards in the same season to earn All-SBC accolades. Off the field, Foster was responsible for the top-ranked recruiting class in the Sun Belt according to 247Sports.com.
During his first two seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Eagles’ rushing attack ranked among the Top 30 each year with per-game averages of 224.2 and 222.3, respectively. Foster’s 2016 group, which combined to run for 1,639 yards and 15 touchdowns, was headlined by Matt Breida who has gone on to become a starter with the Miami Dolphins after signing with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft. A year later, four of his backs combined for 1,699 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Prior to his hire at Georgia Southern, Foster served as running backs coach at Maryville (Tenn.) College during the 2015 campaign. He helped the Scots to a 257.4 rushing yards per game average and 29 ground scores while developing first-team all-conference pick Deshjion Whitlock.
In three prior seasons at Appalachian State, he coached three all-conference selections and a pair of FCS All-America choices, who turned in arguably the top two rushing campaigns in program history at the time.
In 2013, Marcus Cox set ASU rookie records with 1,250 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns, en route to being named the Southern Conference Freshman-of-the Year, placing second in voting for the Jerry Rice Award (NCAA Division I FCS Freshman-of-the-Year) and being the only FCS representative on 247Sports’ True Freshman All-America team. Cox also set a new SoCon record by being named the league’s Freshman-of-the-Week on six occasions in just 10 starts.
In his first season with the Mountaineers in 2012, which resulted in a league championship, Steven Miller rushed for 1,368 yards (16th nationally), caught 34 passes for 377 yards and scored 15 touchdowns (11 rushing, four receiving) in Foster’s only season as his mentor.
Foster came to Appalachian State from Gardner-Webb, where he served as the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ running backs coach for eight seasons beginning in 2004 and was part of a staff that produced a No. 1 total offense ranking in the Big South Conference (and 10th nationally).
He directly worked with five All-Big South performers at GWU, including one in each of his final three years in Boiling Springs. In Foster’s final campaign in 2012, running back Kenny Little became the Bulldogs’ first 1,000-yard rusher in 11 years.
During his tenure at Gardner-Webb, Foster also served as the staff’s primary academic advisor and top recruiter. Additionally, he oversaw the program’s strength and conditioning activities on an interim basis in 2006.
Foster began his coaching career immediately upon his graduation from Gardner-Webb, where he was one of the program’s all-time top rushers from 2000 to 2003. A two-time All-Big South performer, he ranked sixth in GWU history at the time of his graduation with 1,883 career rushing yards.
He also excelled in the classroom as a two-time first-team academic all-district honoree, making him one of only two student-athletes in team history to earn the prestigious recognition multiple times.
A Chesnee, S.C., native, Foster was a South Carolina Mr. Football award finalist and the Appalachian 2A Conference Player-of-the-Year at Chesnee High School in 2000.
He graduated from GWU in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
Foster has two daughters, Journei and Bella, and is engaged to Jennifer Foster.