DATE: Thursday, October 23, 1997 TAG: 9710230716 SECTION: SPORTS PAGE: C1 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Column SOURCE: Tom Robinson LENGTH: 70 lines
Many colleges could not recruit Shawn Foreman to play football for them. Too risky, they said, because Foreman rode the academic borderline at Indian River High School and struggled to make a qualifying score on his standardized entrance test.
That's a story we know by heart; just change the names of the kids and colleges. The story we don't hear often enough is the one in which the questionable young adult matures into a man with answers to each challenge. And, better, who leaves a trail of little victories along his journey so that others may follow.
You could say Foreman is one of those men, but you don't need to. His achievements over the last few years possess their own voice, clear and strong.
It tells you that Foreman is a junior in good standing at West Virginia University. So good that Foreman, the Mountaineers' top receiver, was named to the athletic director's honor roll last semester for earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average.
It says that Foreman, who has studied child development and education in college, is a year away from his degree and possibly graduate school. And that then, if the NFL doesn't interfere, and it could, Foreman has his heart set on going to another school - as an elementary school teacher.
``As a child, I always wanted to stay young,'' Foreman said by phone from Morgantown, W.Va., where he and the Mountaineers face an important Big East game with Virginia Tech on Saturday.
``I can remember that. I see little kids playing football now and I remember how I used to be. I'd like to guide those kids in the right direction.''
As for the football part of his life, perhaps the most impressive information is not Foreman's 36 catches and four touchdowns in six games this season, or that he is one of three team captains. Rather, what speaks loudly about Foreman is that he is West Virginia's first junior to be voted captain by his teammates since 1990.
Take it all in and you get to Foreman's real triumph: that the only thing at risk about him now at age 22 is his former reputation as an at-risk kid.
And if it seems a pleasant surprise, it does not shock one who knows Foreman well, an Indian River Spanish teacher named Linnea Whitlow.
``I knew how well he worked with other students here at school. Even here he was perceived as a friend and helper,'' said Whitlow, who has helped Indian River athletes with academic work for years and has a true fondness for Foreman. In fact, she and her husband, Mo, will be in Morgantown on Saturday for the big game.
``When he told me two years ago that he wanted to be a teacher, I was thrilled. I always told him he needed to work with young people, because they respond to him so well. I think teaching is a perfect field for him. And we need so many more men in education, especially in lower school.''
It so happens that the Mountaineers have also needed Foreman like never before. Their preseason All-American receiver, David Saunders, suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp, which thrust Foreman into the primary pass-catching role.
Foreman has responded with a performance that leads the Big East and ranks him 18th in the country with six receptions per game. And nearly three-quarters of his 36 catches have been good for first downs.
Which tells you that Foreman isn't just a go-to guy for kids seeking role models, but for quarterbacks seeking a safe home for their passes. ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
BILL KELLEY III photos/The Virginian Pilot
Shawn Foreman was an academic question mark coming out of Indian
River High. Today, The West Virginia wide receiver and co-captain is
an honor roll student a year away from graduation.
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