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Originally published Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 10:01 PM

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Stock of Washington's Mason Foster just keep rising

Once an unheralded recruit, Huskies linebacker Mason Foster could sneak into the second or third round of this week's NFL draft.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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quotes Mason is a beast, and he has had some big plays while at the UW. Looking forward to... Read more
quotes The guy is a play maker... plain and simple. Nothing much more to say! Read more
quotes Go Mason ! Hope he ends up with a good team ! Read more

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The stock of Mason Foster just keeps rising.

Once a relatively unheralded two-star recruit out of Seaside, Calif., Foster played his way into a surefire NFL draft pick during his four years as a linebacker at Washington, the last three as a starter and twice as the team's leading tackler.

That trend seems to be continuing entering Thursday's first round of the NFL draft.

Since Foster's last appearance as a Husky in a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska, his stock has risen from a player who might have been taken in the middle rounds to one who could sneak into the second or third.

"The more tape you watch of him, the more you like him," an NFL scout was quoted as saying by The National Football Post, which rated Foster this week as the No. 30 prospect in the draft.

Foster said this month he's not worrying much about where he may be selected, just happy that this name appears certain to be called.

"I've been watching the draft since I was a little kid," he said. "So (I'll) just watch it, and wherever I see my name called is where I see my name called. Just going to hang out and enjoy it, not really expecting too much, and hopefully I get picked up as early as possible. But it doesn't matter where. I'm just happy with the opportunity of playing."

Foster is reported to have had visits to seven NFL teams, with the Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions reported to have interest in selecting him.

Foster finished his UW career with 376 tackles, tied for eighth in school history and the most in 24 years.

He capped it off with 12 tackles, three for loss, in the 19-7 win against Nebraska.

"I feel like I've been building up momentum all the way from the Holiday Bowl to now," Foster said. "I'm going to try to just keep riding that until draft day."

Foster also had a good performance at the Senior Bowl, and further helped his cause at UW's Pro Day last month by running 40 yards in 4.67 seconds. That improved his NFL combine time.

Foster believes the Senior Bowl gave him a chance to showcase himself for those who didn't see many of Washington's games on the West Coast.

He says he was "able to show those guys I'm just as good as anybody else in the country, showing them what I can do — rush the passer and be an all-around linebacker.

"I think that really put me on the map," he added.

Teams see him mostly as a middle or weakside linebacker, the latter the position he played last season at Washington.

"Using my instincts, going sideline to sideline, that's the biggest thing," Foster said of what NFL teams want.

Foster is one of two Washington players certain to be drafted. Quarterback Jake Locker, a native of Ferndale, is the other.

Safety Nate Williams, a graduate of Burien's Kennedy Catholic High School, is also included on some mock drafts as a possible late-round selection.

Linebacker Victor Aiyewa is on some draft lists and said last week he hopes to at least get a chance to sign as a free agent.

It would be the first time since 2004 that more than two Huskies have been drafted. Four Huskies were taken that year, including receiver Reggie Williams, who was the last UW first-round pick.

Washington had two players taken last season — linebacker Donald Butler (San Diego Chargers) and defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (Philadelphia Eagles), each in the third round. That was the first time Washington had any players taken since 2007.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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