This story appeared in Volume 6, Issue 1 of Hail Varsity and is an extended version of Trey and Jerald’s interview’s that was featured on the cover. To read more great stories like this, subscribe here.
On Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, as Nebraska kicked off its preparations for Minnesota, Trey Foster met with the media. After answering a few questions, he left the podium and his brother Jerald Foster took his turn. Trey decided to stick around, asking one final question: “How would you characterize Trey Foster?”
Jerald went into a long answer that made everyone in the room laugh. It highlighted the relationship and bond between the brothers, as they laughed right along with everyone else. After that moment, it was clear what needed to happen. Trey and Jerald needed a little more time one-on-one to talk about life, football and everything in between. It was the perfect ending for brothers as they embark on new journeys without each other for the first time in a long time.
Q: What has it meant to play together at Nebraska?
TF: You know, when I was getting recruited, I wasn’t a very big recruit. Nebraska was one of my options and I talked to my dad about it. It was really my only option I saw to play with (Jerald) because I knew he was going to go somewhere big. I knew Nebraska was going to offer him. At the time, Barney Cotton was recruiting both of us – me as a walk-on and him as a scholarship athlete for 2014. I talked to my dad, and he told me not to go to a small school, so I thought, “All right that solidifies everything.” After that, it was just trying to see if he (Jerald) would choose Nebraska and he ended up doing it.
TF: Yeah, because I graduated in 2012 and you graduated in 2014.
JF: Why would he be looking at you for 2014?
TF: No, he would be looking at you for 2014 because you were a 2014 prospect.
JF: What you just said . . .
TF: He was looking at you as a 2014 prospect.
JF: You should have just said that. You didn’t say it right.
TF: It’s fine.
Q: What if Jerald wouldn’t have picked Nebraska?
TF: Then hewould have just been an idiot.
JF: Uh, no. No, no.
Q: Was Nebraska going to be it though, Jerald?
JF: Yeah, at first.
TF: He was pretty open.
JF: I was going to go to ‘Bama. We’re from Alabama. Our whole family is. Well, we grew up [in Lincoln] so we definitely claim this as our place. The whole family is from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.
Q: Were you ever pushing him to pick Nebraska, Trey?
TF: I mean, I tried not to. He told me he was pretty sure he was going to come to Nebraska. I can’t remember at what point he did, but he was pretty sure he was going to come here. I told him to enjoy the recruiting process and go visit places and go talk to other guys other than me about college football. The guy that pretty much talked him into coming here was Terrell Newby.
JF: Yeah, I talked to “Newbs.” I was thinking about UCLA, and he talked me out of UCLA. It was pretty much about how their coaching staff picks their guys and what they see and guys’ stars and stuff and then what the coaches here saw in guys, like your personality.
TF: He didn’t end up taking a visit.
JF: I went and talked to [Nick] Saban and ‘Bama.
TF: I told him to at least take a visit to Florida or Georgia.
JF: I did talk to some of the other coaches.
TF: I told him it’d be pretty cool to go down there. During his senior year, he was pretty much visiting (Nebraska) every single game.
JF: At that point, I was trying to make my class.
TF: Yeah, he was trying to make his class better like Josh Banderas did.
Q: So you were recruiting for your class?
JF: That was pretty much me. Because “Bando” told me to try to get (the class) to a place where you’re feeling like this is going to be it. There’s no point in holding yourself off from there. Get there, make your team, make a statement, go with it. It worked for me and Luke (McNitt), starting to talk to all of these other guys. What was it? We had a big group chat. It was like 20 other guys that were coming to Nebraska. Well, “we’re coming or we’re thinking about it.” We were all just texting back and forth that we’d be here or doing this this week, like “Come out.”
Q: Did you try to do that too, Trey?
TF: I wouldn’t say so. I was in a different situation because I was a walk-on and I didn’t really know very many people until it was late in the year and it was November and I thought, “Oh, OK. Me walking on is an actual real thing.” I know Jordan (Westerkamp) and Tommy (Armstrong Jr.) knew each other.
Q: Did people realize you were the third roommate with Westerkamp and Armstrong?
TF: Sometimes but it’s very easy to get overshadowed with the two of them.
Q: Who do you live with, Jerald?
JF: (Mick) Stoltenberg and De’Mornay (Pierson-El).
Q: How do you pick who you live with?
JF: You find who you don’t hate and you go with that.
TF: I’ve lived with three different sets of guys.
JF: Yeah, you have lived with a lot of people.
Q: What about you, Jerald?
JF: In the dorms, I was with (Nick) Gates, Sedrick (King) and Peyton (Newell). We got annoyed with each other. The way it was set up in the four-house, one room would be for two and the other room would be for two. After a semester, we ended up switched. Gates went over to live with Peyton and Sedrick came to live with me because neither group could stand being with the other. One day, Sedrick came into the house and it was just me and him and I was like, “Do you have class or anything?” He said “no,” so I asked when Peyton would be back. He said, “I don’t think he’ll be back for a while.” So I said, “Let’s switch roommates.” We literally took all of their stuff and just switched. He (Gates) came back and I went, “You live over there now.” At that point, the two groups did not mess with each other. Now, we’re great.
Q: And you and Sedrick?
JF: Me and “Sed” ended up living together the next year. Me and him have a great relationship. We enjoyed living together so we were fine. Definitely for (Gates and Newell), our relationship got a whole lot better.
Q: Why didn’t the two of you ever live together?
TF: Because he told me he’d never live with me.
JF: I’d never live with him.
TF: After we lived together until I left for college, our parents would ask us if we were going to live together and he said, ‘No. Never.”
JF: How do I keep my house?
TF: Oh, he keeps his house spotless.
JF: He lives like an animal.
TF: I’m fine going home and just taking stuff off and dropping it at the end of the bed.
JF: You can’t just take off your clothes and leave them on your floor.
TF: He was laughing at me because I cleaned my room . . .
JF: He’s cleaned his room like one time.
TF: The thing is, he’ll come over and he’ll clean my room.
JF: I can’t sit in a mess.
TF: So I’m like, “Ah, yes. It worked.” This worked out for me because he enjoys cleaning. But anyway, I had cleaned my room and then he came three days later and it was messy. He was like, “How did you manage to do this to your room?”
JF: It makes me have to leave. We live right by each other. Our houses are literally right by each other.
Q: What has that meant to your family to have you play together?
TF: Well, I’d say at the beginning of the season when he got hurt, our parents were way more torn up about it than we were.
JF: Yeah, they were torn up.
TF: They wanted to see him and me for my senior year. They were seeing it all line up perfectly and then he got hurt. The two of us were pretty set on, “OK, this is what you’re going to do.” I mean, he told me, “I’m going to be back.” And I said it would suck but you’ve got to do it.
Q: And you did push pretty hard?
JF: It was such a different kind of push. For football, in summer you push yourself to limits you’re not used to, but you’re healthy. It’s a different kind of push. After it’s over, you can go home and feel good. This was real different. I’d go home and still not be able to do stuff. I’d have to rely on people, and that was another thing; I’m not a big guy on letting people do things for me.
TF: I’d drive him around until he could drive.
Q: So it was nice having your brother right there?
JF: Oh, yeah, I didn’t have to ask him. He would just do it for me, which, of course, I’m not saying it’s expected but it’s just a family thing. I didn’t really need to think about it. If I needed something, he’d be there.
Q: Was it hard to see him go through that, Trey?
TF: Both of us kind of went through a phase of, “Gosh, this sucks. Gosh, this is terrible.” For me, it was tough seeing him struggle day-in and day-out, not being able to do the things he wanted to do. He’d tell me, “Ah man, Trey. Today sucked,” and I’d just ask him how the day was in rehab.
JF: That first month was the worst month of my life.
TF: I kept telling him it’d be worth it, I promise.
JF: The first month I was pretty much . . . oh, man. I couldn’t walk, so they’d have me come in every day and get on the table and they’d just start cranking my knee to get my flexion and then they’d crank it back the other way for extension. We’d do that every single day. I knew I had an hour of getting my knee cranked. Those days . . .
TF: I’d have an off-day and I’d think, “Ah, I get to sleep in,” and then I’d get that text. “Ready at 8 a.m.?” And I’d go, “OK, got to wake up. Got to take him. Got to take him.”
Q: What did you tell him when he’d have that work done on his knee?
TF: I’d tell him a couple of times that he had to do what he had to do, but the trainers didn’t like it when I was in there because I’d distract him.
Q: So you can be a bit distracting to each other?
TF: We for sure feed off of each other’s energies. Sometimes we exasperate situations. It especially gets that way in one-on-ones . . .
JF: I feel like I curse more around him.
TF: He gets going in one-on-ones and I see him and I start yelling, “OK, let’s go.”
JF: He can fire me up more than a coach could but not my boys on the line. I feel like they’re about the same. (Left tackle Nick) Gates comes over and punches me in the back and it’s like all right. I guess it’s time for me to get going. I treat (Trey) like one of the line at this point.
Q: Coach Mike Cavanaugh was recently hedging bets on who will start a fight between the linemen first.
TF: That’s a running joke all the time. It’s like when we’re tired, who’s going to start a fight to help everyone else out?
JF: It’s just different. I feel like everyone else . . . If Gates is going to fight, it’s spur of the moment. I usually come up with a plan.
TF: Punch someone in the back of the head.
JF: Right. Wait until this is over or until he turns his head and . . .
JF: I’m scheming. It’s more fun.
Q: Did you scheme against Trey growing up?
JF: I guess a lit
tle bit. That sounds scary. Creepy.
TF: You’ve got to have a game plan to it.
JF:You can’t just go in and hit him.
TF: Controlled madness. Controlled aggression.
Q: Who would lose their temper quicker?
JF: Temper? Me. I don’t really keep my temper well.
TF: I’m more calm and collected than him. It’s a surprise when I lose my temper. He loses his temper and he’ll still be controlled and still be methodical about it. I lose my temper and I completely . . . all bets are off the table. I don’t know what’s going on. I just turn into an idiot.
JF: A big dumb-dumb, running around. Mad.
Q: Did your parents have a favorite between you?
JF: Probably me. I was cooler.
TF: I am easily my parents’ favorite.
JF: I have more friends. My friends came around the house more. His friends were crap.
TF: I was a good kid.
JF: Was I a troublemaker?
TF: 100 percent.
JF: Really? I mean, not really. In middle school, I guess, yeah, I got referred and stuff, but that was little kid stuff. In high school, I wasn’t too bad. I didn’t get into any fights in high school.
TF: I probably get into bigger trouble than him. He gets into little trouble more than me.
Q: What’s the most similar thing about the two of you?
TF: Probably the way we talk.
JF: And what we like to do, I’d say that.
Q: Sense of humor?
JF: Yeah, we share about the same sense of humor. We’ve got that. I think our dad shares that same dry humor.
TF: But neither of us think he’s that funny. Actually, neither of us like to admit he’s funny.
JF: He is not funny. It’s so funny that people think that he’s funny and then we’ll hear a joke and we’re like, “That was horrible.” We’ll just not laugh.
TF: Maybe it’s because we just hear the bad jokes?
JF: Maybe he just tries too hard with us?
TF: He’s used up all his material with us.
JF: Used it all up.
Q: How did you end up at the positions you play?
Jerald: “I was fat.” | Trey: “And I was slightly less fat.”
JF: I was fat.
TF: And I was slightly less fat.
JF: That’s true. We were all hanging out one night . . .
TF: Yeah, we’re describing each other’s siblings. I was talking about Jordan (Westerkamp) and both of his siblings and I said his younger brother Aaron is the smart one, his older brother Christian is the one that gets everything done and is the fun one and Jordan is the one that sucks. He’s just an athlete. Past playing football, he sucks. Those are the jokes we say to each other, and he’s like, “Oh yeah. Trey you’re the fat one and Jerald, you’re the fatter one.”
Q: So your size is how you became a tight end, Trey?
TF: Well, I mean, it kind of seems like I was offensive-minded and I was too small to be a lineman. I was a fairly short tight end and too tall to be a fullback, so you find out where can Trey fit on the field? I’ve played defensive end. I’ve played nose guard. I’ve played linebacker. I’ve played tight end.
JF: You played nose guard in high school?
JF: What years?
TF: My junior year. I played nose guard for the “TNT” defensive formation.
JF: Really? I’m skeptical.
TF: That was when you were a freshman.
JF: Oh, that’s why. I was like . . . wait, your junior year? You were little though.
TF: I know.
JF: That was like the smallest Trey was.
TF: Well, I had to play somewhere. They had to put me somewhere on the field because I was playing behind David Sutton and Sam Cotton.
JF: I thought you were going to say because you were the coach’s son.
TF: Well, yeah. I’m the coach’s son. Figure out if he can play at all.
JF: He’s just trash.
TF: He’s just garbage.
JF: Give him a water bottle and have him walk around.
TF: Like, just please sit on the sideline. Motivate us.
JF: You suck, kid. Here you go. Here’s water and a towel.
Q: And how did you end up on the offensive line, Jerald?
JF: I liked (former Nebraska offensive line coach John) Garrison. I didn’t really care too much. It just worked out that I ended up on offense. I mean, it works for me. I would have been on offense or defensive tackle.
Q: You mention liking Garrison. How has the transition been with the new staff?
JF: We start off . . . When was it? It was the winter when we met (the new staff), right?
JF: OK, so they come in after we get doing some kind of run and (Coach Cavanaugh) comes into the middle and I was like, “We do not have a little fat coach.” I was like, “Oh my god, this guy is going to be soft.” Then he just comes in and starts losing his mind and getting mad at us. He goes, “You’re going to be a great offensive line and I’m going to make you better.” He just gets really intense and I thought, “Geez.”
TF: That’s a fairly censored way Jerald just explained it.
JF: Yes, very censored, but he was yelling at us and stuff. He’s like, “All right, let’s break it down.” He breaks it down and I was like, “Goodness gracious, let’s see how this goes.” That first year it was hard to get used to it because he was really aggressive with us. I didn’t see it coming out of him. I mean, Garrison was pretty aggressive in meeting rooms, but on the field he wasn’t too mad at you. “Cav” is like the exact opposite. He’ll just get into you and then when we’re in meetings, he’ll just be making jokes and stuff like that. Just a little difference.
TF: He’s a great coach.
JF: He’s trying to get you going. He knows what he’s talking about. Here’s the thing, if he didn’t know what he was talking about and he wasn’t right, I would see people being able to be mad at him for what he says to you, but he knows what he’s saying to you and he’s not trying to make you feel bad. He’s trying to make you understand where he’s coming from and where you can be.
TF: “You’re on drugs, (Bryan) Brokop!”
JF: He says some funny one-liners.
Q: And if the Huskers can hire a 10th coach per the NCAA?
TF: Tavita Thompson.
Q: Would you advocate for him to get that role?
JF: Yes. Eve
TF: Every time.
JF: Ten times over.
TF: Hire Tavita Thompson.
JF: Every day.
TF: He knows the ins-and-outs of the game. He’s literally another “Cav” coaching tight ends.
JF: But he also knows everything about our position. And “Cav” is big on fundamentals. I love it. He’s old-school, like where your hands are supposed to be placed. Tavita has learned from so many offensive linemen, the unorthodox methods, so he just brings that to you so you can have something different. When I came back, for an example, I came back, I didn’t have my set like I used to. Not bragging or anything, but I had a pretty good set where my hands would be placed. It was pretty good, but when I came back, I didn’t have it all just because I hadn’t been practicing. (Tavita) was like, “OK, Jerald, because I don’t think you’ll get it before the season is over, we’re going to give you something else. He gave me a different way to play the guy.” He was like, “You’re going to slap the dude’s head down, he’s going to come up not knowing where he’s at and you’re going to be able to be able to work your hands wherever you need to,” just because I couldn’t really get my set – I mean, now I can – but I could get my set and put my hands in the middle of his chest. I was wide and I’d be rolling out of my stance. He understands it’s not going to be as pretty as you want every time, but you’ve just got to be ready for it.
Q: Thompson must have done something right because you were pretty stellar your first game back.
JF: Oh, definitely. Big credit to him. I’m not taking anything away from “Cav.”
TF: But that was the way we needed to do it.
JF: Give it to Tavita. He changed up my whole . . . Oh, man. That was crazy. He was like, “All right, we’re going to change that this week.” So we changed it.
TF: That’s flexibility and coach-ability. That’s what the best players can do, just being able to adapt to what you need to change and being humble enough to say, “OK, I understand you’re saying I can’t do this as well as I could be doing it. What’s the next step we take to fixing it and making me do the best job I can to get the job done?”
Q: Were you able to offer advice to Jerald from your experience?
TF: I mean, I haven’t ever said that to him but I feel like I show a decent example of it if I do.
JF: Oh, yeah, Trey is always on the field having a great time. He makes it easy. You see someone else doing their job and for me, as his brother, I want to work harder than him. There’s nothing wrong with that.
TF: Even if it’s not him helping me work hard, Sam (Cotton), day in and day out, will try to say I’m the smartest guy in the room, but he’s for sure our hardest worker. It’s easy to make yourself better when you’ve got someone you’ve played football with at the same position with for almost 10 years now, outworking you every single day.
Q: How do tight ends and the offensive line complement one another?
TF: I’d definitely say when the offensive line is super-good, especially the tackles, and they’ve done a great job this season, it makes it easy on the tight-end unit to get our job done and help make them look better. I feel like the tight-end unit has also done a good job of being sound with what our roles are on run blocking, out on the perimeter, stretching out the defense and helping out the offensive line with pass protection to make their job sometimes easier. When they need us to bail them out and we need them to bail us out, I feel we do a good job of complementing each other and helping each other out.
JF: Definitely. How is it when you have to work with the young kids?
TF: I mean, you start working with the young guys and the biggest thing is communication and when you’ve got young guys in there that are afraid to go out there and make a call . . . I mean, even when Jerald and I have a tackle between us and if we had a young guy, we can still make sure the three of us get our job done because he can talk through him to me and I can talk through me to Jerald. It just makes it light-years better if it wasn’t me with two young guys.
JF: The young bucks.
TF: Young guys back-to-back-to-back and I’m just like looking over to the center like, “Where are you going for this run play?”
Q: What will you miss about playing with one another?
TF: I’ll miss the times outside of football and just hanging out with all of the boys you – it’s going to sound cliché – grind with every single day and you show up with every day at 6 a.m.
TF: But they’re out there putting in the same work you do, and getting to bitch and complain about all the stuff the strength staff is making you do and the coaches got you in. “Oh, we’re in full pads today? You’ve got to be kidding me.” And all that, as well as joking around about all the fights that guys get into. It’s going to be a hard transition not getting to see everyone’s faces.
JF: I won’t have a “J” on the back of my jersey any more. I’ve had that forever.
TF: He gets to be the lone Foster on the team.
JF: I’ve had that “J” forever.
Q: Trey can still come visit from time-to-time though, right?
TF: He’s cutting me off.
JF: You’re cut off buddy. This is my school now.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.