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Texas RB D'Onta Foreman still motivated by recruiting snubs

As the lesser-recruited twin brother who had to battle for playing time in high school, nothing has come easily for the breakout sophomore.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The listed height and weight of 6'0 and 241 pounds for Texas Longhorns sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman can't measure the size of the chip on his shoulder.

Head coach Charlie Strong spoke during the spring about how he was still burning from the blowout loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Texas Bowl.

His emerging young ball carrier still burns about the disrespect he received during the recruiting process, including the negligence of former head coach Mack Brown on a visit with his twin brother Armanti and his father. When the Foremans met with Brown and former co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, all the focus was on Armanti.

"They kept talking to my brother and I'm just sitting there like, ‘Okay.'"

Things got even worse for D'Onta.

"Then they said they were going to offer me," Foreman recalled. "I sat there, but I didn't get the offer. I left, and I was hurt."

The promised offer from Texas was slow in coming. Texas A&M didn't offer, either, though the Aggies coveted his twin brother Armanti. Neither did Oklahoma and current Texas play caller Jay Norvell. Coaches wanted to see more explosiveness from D'Onta, despite the fact that he averaged over nine yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns as a junior.

Despite his initial pain and hesitation about committing to a school that school that ignored him so pointedly on such an important visit, Foreman ended up pleding to the Horns before his senior season.

Then he started proving all those other coaches wrong.

As a senior, Foreman produced 2,102 yards and 31 touchdowns on 202 carries as a senior, an average of more than 10 yards per carry and a touchdown on every 6.5 times he received a handoff. Not only did Foreman gain 100 or more yards rushing in every game but one, he also returned kickoffs, including a 99-yard touchdown return, and posted 12 tackles for loss, five sacks, and an interception on defense.

Even then, the offers never poured in. Even then, his recruiting rankings never received the deserved bump.

The most insulting ranking? How about the two-star classification from Rivals? Even 247Sports ranked 142 players ahead of Foreman in the state of Texas in 2014. Running backs who signed with Old Dominion, UTEP, San Diego State, Louisiana Tech, and UMass all ranked higher than Foreman, who was considered the No. 67 player nationally at his position, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

It still burns.

"I didn't get the satisfaction that I feel like I should have gotten," Foreman said. "I used that last year and this year to go out there and just show the world who I really am and what I have."

There's one thing that doesn't burn Foreman, though, and that's his position behind senior running back Johnathan Gray on the depth chart. He's too humble for that -- just ask him about any potential frustration and he'll tell the truth.

"No, sir. I do what I'm asked to do," he said. "I just go out there and play hard every game. That's all."

For a player in a program often defined by its sense of entitlement during the waning years of the Mack Brown era, Foreman's words are hardly insignificant.

Team first.

And his comments don't stem from a lack of desire, either.

"Everyone wants to start," Foreman said. "I don't look at it as me being a starter. I know I'm going to get my reps in at game time, so when I go out there I just do the best I can do."

Play caller Jay Norvell and running backs coach Tommie Robinson could hardly say it better themselves.

All the hard work that endeared Foreman to Strong paid off against Oklahoma, when he became the first Texas running back to eclipse the 100-yard mark in consecutive games since the end of the 2013 season. The signature play came on the sprint draw run for 81 yards that was the longest run from scrimmage for the Horns since 2012 and the biggest running play in the Cotton Bowl since Chris Ogbonnaya went for 62 yards in the fourth quarter of the 45-35 win in 2008.

Strong commended Foreman's speed on Monday, but his teammates have been giving him grief about getting caught in the open field by Oklahoma defenders and not finishing the play with a touchdown.

"Oh, man, we had that conversation all week," Foreman said. "Really we're still having it. They said I should have scored. They said, ‘I thought you were faster than that.' I am fast, but they were fast, too. That was all, but they were happy for me, just the run I had. It was a big point in the game, and I just went out there and did what I could do."

Turns out, what Foreman can do is average 6.2 yards per carry and 6.8 highlight yards per opportunity, a metric that measures what a running back can create after the offensive line does the dirty work over the first five yards.

Just don't mistake the humility he shows in demurring about the starting job for the same type of complacency that often plagues his brother.

"I just go out there every day at practice and in games, and try to show people that they missed out," Foreman said. "But I'm here now, and I'm just trying to make the Longhorn family proud."