Tyler Foto should have been on an official college recruiting visit this past weekend.
Instead, he was on crutches. Actually, knowing Foto, he had already tossed those aside since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee on Sept. 7 against Sanford Seminole.
The month of September used to be the happiest time of the year in the life of Foto. The standout high school football player would have been one of the top linebackers in the state for the Class of 2013 had he not missed his junior season.
That was the first September he'd like to forget. Two games into the 2011 season, Foto found himself being hauled off to jail after pushing a student from a rival high school to the ground.
That's Foto's version. Not much to it. An officer who witnessed the altercation, however, saw it differently, and arrested him for aggravated battery. A spokesman for the Oviedo police department said the victim was “knocked out by being slammed to the ground.”
He got community service and probation with his plea bargain. He was also expelled from Oviedo High, but was allowed to return in January and took part in spring football. Things were looking up and the Oviedo Lions were rolling into the 2012 season.
In the third quarter of Game 2, he felt that pop … the one that makes football players squeamish just thinking about it.
Yes, another September he won't want to remember.
“I didn't think I tore anything. I was in a lot of pain,” Foto said. “I was just hoping I could play next week, then I found out Monday after school.”
The news was bad. He had heard it before, only the circumstances had changed. Done for the season. Torn ACL.
Foto said it's been hardest on his mother, Lori Holycross.
“My mom is sad .. the most sad out of everybody. She's taken it the hardest because of what happened last year,” he said. “It's just pretty much a heartbreak since I missed all of last year and now this year. Well … hopefully not all of this year.”
That's right. He said this year and he has every intention of returning to the lineup next month.
He could have surgery now. Most players would, and then focus on preparing for college. For Foto, the future is now.
‘I don't know what's going on… I'm just trying to get a scholarship,” Foto said. “I haven't really even talked to any [college recruiters]. I've gotten some letters, but those are just letters.”
There is some hope. He's had sniffs of interest from Iowa State and Western Kentucky.
He could rely on film from the first two Oviedo games, plus the kickoff jamboree, but he didn't even play full games due to lopsided margins. He did have 10 tackles in two quarters in a rout of Lyman.
“Right now if I went and just had surgery, I don't think I'd get anything,” Foto said of his scholarship chances. “I'm trying to get more film … trying to play so I can at least get something.”
His target is the Edgewater game Oct. 18. It seems impossible, perhaps even crazy.
“The bad part is losing last year and then working so hard to get back. This fall he has been such a leader for us,” Oviedo Coach Wes Allen said. “He's been so focused on football and his grades and then for this to happen to him … I just feel awful for him.
“Football for Oviedo High School is going to go on. For Tyler Foto, unfortunately, it's done while he's in high school.”
Well, it will go on, yes. Maybe not as smoothly as it was, however.
That was obvious last Friday night. Lake Brantley coach George Clayton obviously knew what was missing in the middle of the Oviedo defense and sent big Zach Krider up the middle over and over. Krider broke a Brantley record with five touchdowns and 313 yards rushing.
Foto could only watch as the Lions lost.
“They need me out there on the defensive side, so I just gotta man up and be out there for them,” Foto said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun