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Head coach Lovie Smith gave Epstein the start over Foster.The senior received only three carries, while Epstein and other true freshman Ra’Von Bonner got 33 total carries.Foster then enrolled at Illinois in the fall of 2013 and redshirted his first year on campus.He did not see the field in his first year of eligibility under head coach Tim Beckman.The freshman ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns against Ball State, while Foster totaled only 15 yards.Illinois then hosted Western Kentucky in its Week 2 matchup.Having Epstein and Bonner in front of Foster further illustrated Smith’s plan to get his young players some exposure to the college game.“I’m not going to sit here and say it wasn’t frustrating (not receiving as many snaps),” Foster said.
“For you to know Kendrick Foster, he’s a team player,” Smith said.“Kendrick’s worked hard and really persevered all season,” said offensive lineman Nick Allegretti. He’s a great kid, love the kid.” Smith showed he wanted freshmen playing as much as possible last season.Illinois was the youngest team and started the most true freshmen in the country.“Like I have always said, I want to prove that I am one of the best running backs in the country and Big Ten.
I believe my vision between the tackles and my ability to break tackles and my speed is one of the best in the country.” Coaches recorded Foster running a 4.3 40-yard dash over the summer.But in the Illini’s Week 5 matchup against the Hawkeyes, Epstein suffered a foot injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season.