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Frustration worth its wait in gold

Quarterback Reid Herchenbach and fullback David Foster were instrumental in the success of Merced College's 2007 football season.

And they thought it showed.

The sophomore duo compiled a couple highlight tapes and littered prospective colleges with them.

Then they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

February's national signing day came and went, but Herchenbach and Foster weren't among the signees.

Blue Devils coach Tony Lewis tried to preach patience -- but when a person's dream is sitting in limbo, patience can be a tall order.

"I was surprised," said Herchenbach, who starred at Golden Valley prior to his two years at MC. "Especially because of the film I had.

"I thought that with some of the plays I made and my athleticism that things would happen quick.

"It was a long time."

But the call finally came.

"I told Reid if he was patient, there would be a quarterback who gets hurt at spring practice or one that comes back ineligible, and sure enough," Lewis said.

Alabama State, a Division I-AA school, suddenly found itself without a starting quarterback when senior Chris Mitchell was ruled ineligible.

The school contacted Herchenbach last week and by Saturday he'd made his commitment.

"It sounded like a perfect situation for me," Herchenbach said.

"They're bringing me in to start and they run a Texas Tech-style offense, so I'm going to get to throw the ball a lot.

"It's all no huddle. You get the signals from the sideline and then let the receivers know.

"It should be fun."

As good as the opportunity from Alabama State might have been, the biggest selling point for Herchenbach may have been Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

"My dream is to try and play in the NFL," Herchenbach said. "(Jackson) was Alabama State's quarterback two years ago.

"It shows that if I work hard and perform, I could have a chance."

The only remaining sticking point for Herchenbach was that he'd never seen the university.

But Alabama State anticipated his apprehension.

"They're going to let me go on an official visit April 11," Herchenbach said. "If I don't like it, they said they'd let me out of my commitment.

"As soon as they said that, I was sold."

Foster received a similar call from Carson-Newman University -- a Division II school in his home state of Tennessee -- a few weeks earlier.

"The wait was frustrating," Foster said. "All the letters I was getting from schools before my sophomore season, I thought the process was going to go a little faster.

"But I realized I was fullback and I didn't have that many stats.

"This should be a good fit for me, though. They run an option offense which I ran in high school, so I'm comfortable with it.

"They have five or six running backs in front of me, but none of them are big backs.

"I think I'll have a chance to come in and play."

Lewis said this could be the first domino to drop for MC.

With the Division II schools starting to hit the beaten path, five or six more scholarships are currently in the works and Lewis believes more will follow.

"I was a little surprised it's taken some of these guys this long to sign, but it definitely looks like things are picking up," Lewis said.

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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