With a fallen USC Trojans defender laying helplessly behind him in the end zone, Texas Longhorns senior wide receiver Armanti Foreman hauled in a 17-yard strike from freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger in the Coliseum to take the lead with less than a minute remaining last Saturday.
What could have been the game-winning play ultimately was not, but Foreman’s performance in Los Angeles, which included a crucial contested fourth-down catch on that late drive in regulation, was hardly expected weeks ago.
The team’s leading receiver from last season only caught one pass for nine yards during the Orange-White game in the spring and sat third at the H wide receiver position during preseason camp.
Once a highly-regarded recruit who never quite lived up to the significant hype upon his arrival as his overlooked younger brother blossomed into a star, Foreman was at a crossroads.
“He was third on our depth chart because he was a really bad practice player, and I'm not telling you anything I haven't told him,” said head coach Tom Herman.
With the emergence of redshirt freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps during the spring and the presence of sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey providing the ‘Horns a big target, Foreman appeared lost in the shuffle.
Then, all of a sudden, Foreman started producing once the season started — he’s the second-leading receiver with 15 catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns, one in each game. The three touchdowns match his total from the entire 2016 season.
And those numbers don’t quite reflect how often he’s been open, as both Ehlinger and Buechele have missed him down the field, costing Foreman the potential for several more scores.
The success isn’t a coincidence, either.
“He's bought in to the necessity of great practices and has had them these last few weeks,” Herman said. “The football Gods usually reward people that practice really well. Obviously I say that sarcastically because there are no football Gods.”
Afforded more playing time because of his practice habits and better prepared to take advantage of those opportunities as a result, Foreman is showing the flashes that made him the nation’s No. 111 player nationally in the 2014 recruiting class.
“He's rewarded on Saturdays because of how hard he has practiced and how well he's practiced,” Herman said. “So really excited for him to embrace that role and hopefully he'll continue to do that.”