I won’t remember Sam Foltz for a punt. In fact, there’s really only one Sam Foltz football moment I can remember.It was a cold day in Madison, Wis. in 2014. Foltz took the snap on fourth down and ran right, barreling over a Wisconsin player as a he gained a Nebraska first down.
The former walk-on from Greeley, Neb. known for 50-yard boomers showed off the athleticism that had made him a four-sport star in high school.
The Huskers lost that game handily, but that play still stuck in my mind. It is a play that I’ve mentally watched over and over again during the last 24 hours or so.
Late Saturday night, we lost Sam Foltz, and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler when the car they were traveling home in from a camp in Wisconsin hit a tree.
I was standing in line at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Council Bluffs with my family when I saw the news.
I was numb. I was hurt. I was confused.
I hurt for the Foltz and Sadler families. I hurt for their teammates and fans. I hurt for college football.
We forget that the guys we watch hit each other on Saturday afternoons are humans too. They aren’t the superheroes we make them out to be.
They’re just kids.
They’re kids the same age as me.
Sam Foltz lived the dream of every kid in Nebraska. He didn’t care that he wasn’t going to be on scholarship.
He wanted to be a Husker.
Foltz took that chance and ran with it. He became the starter in 2013 and showed improvement in 2014. Enough improvement, in fact, to earn a scholarship.
He was named the Big 10 Punter of the Year in 2015. He was named a preseason All-American earlier this summer.
He was destined to be Nebraska’s next First Team All-American, the next walk-on success story.
Statistically, he’ll go down as one of the best in a long line of great Nebraska punters.
He’ll be remembered more for how he used his role off the field. He became the role model to hundreds small kids in Nebraska.
He was the guy visiting hospitals, running in 5K’s with kids and pushing his teammates to work harder than they ever have in the weight room. He’d traveled all over the country this summer working as a coach at Kohl’s Kicking camps.
He wanted people to know if an unrecruited kid from Greeley could do it, with a little hard work, so could you.
Five days before he died, he tweeted this.
— Sam Foltz (@samfoltz27) July 19, 2016
You never know who’s watching and you never know when it could end. What will you do for the next generation to aspire to?
Life can turn on a dime, and that’s is absolutely fucking terrifying. We don’t really realize how precious this life is until something like this happens and leaves us speechless, or scared, or sad, or some combination of the three.
I’m sitting over my keyboard trying to fight back the tears that accompany them all.
I hurt today. I hurt for families, teammates, fans and college football. I hurt for the world that lost one hell of a role model.
From now on, I’m going to live like I’m running for a first down on fourth and long in Madison.
I’m going to live my life like Sam Foltz.
You never know who is watching.