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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Edge Isaiah Foskey Focused on Showing Versatility at Reese's Senior Bowl

February 1, 2023
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The lead-up to the NFL Draft is always fascinating as agents, players and organizations are working various angles or narratives to put themselves in the best position over a three-day stretch in April. 

Hundreds of NFL scouts, coaches and key personnel figures gather in Mobile (Ala.) for the Reese’s Senior Bowl each year and it essentially kicks off the path to the draft. 

Notre Dame edge rusher Isaiah Foskey is one of the rare cases where he has the opportunity to sell multiple parts of his game and wasted little time making it clear he was a four-down player. Sure, every scout and coach knows Foskey broke Notre Dame’s all-time sack record, but the ability to sell four career blocked punts adds value other edge players can’t provide. 

"I like kickoff and punt return a lot, but any special teams, I'll be willing to help the team out to win the game,” Foskey said in Mobile. “Punt return, I love. This year I was able to block two punts, which was a game-changing type of thing. Blocking punts is always fun." 

Some players might roll their eyes if asked to play special teams, but Notre Dame has made it a priority to involve its best players and it’s something Foskey embraced early in his career. The California native was quick to give credit to Brian Polian and Brian Mason for their schemes to allow his success. 

“Coach Polian and Coach Mase set me up great,” stated Foskey. “Two great special teams coaches that set me up to get free. I think we had the most blocked punts in Notre Dame history. I don't know if it was in college this year, but we had seven or eight blocked punts. It's up to the coaches and determination on the players to get blocked punt, but that was the mentality of the punt block team." 

Foskey isn’t just selling special teams as his money will come from pressuring the quarterback. He broke Justin Tuck’s school sack record in November and leaves Notre Dame with 26.5 sacks. 

The record speaks for itself, but the fact Foskey and Tuck started to become close over the last year meant the world to the 6-foot-4, 262-pounder.

"That was a crazy experience just because it was my first time playing in the snow against Boston College, senior night and there was a lot of hype and emotion towards that game,” recalled Foskey. “That snow game was really fun. There were a lot of cool pictures too. 

"Just breaking that sack record - I have a good relationship with Justin Tuck - it was just something different that you could break someone's record you know, met and was on the phone with. It was different, but an exciting moment for me." 

And yes, Foskey believes of all his skills, the natural ability to come off the edge and get to the quarterback is his greatest strength. 

"The part of my game that will translate the best to the NFL is just getting to the quarterback any type of way,” Foskey explained. “That's what I'm good at. That's what a lot of people see on film. That's what a lot of edge rushers dream about and always work on. We're pass rush specialists. I feel I do a great job having natural talent to get to the quarterback." 

The chance to go against some of the top offensive linemen in practice will allow Foskey an opportunity to raise his draft stock. Foskey also wasn’t shy in making a point of who he was looking forward to facing this week. 

"I feel a lot of hype has been around Dawand Jones, so that's one guy I've been studying film on and wanting to go against,” said Foskey. “Blake Freeland too, because I wasn't able to go against him as much when we played BYU. I was going against the other tackle a lot more. That's another guy I'm excited to go against. Asim Richards - I'm not sure if he's here. I haven't seen him, but he's another guy I'm excited to go against." 

Foskey also is looking forward to showing off his improved run defense, which was an area highlighted by the draft advisory board a year ago when he requested an evaluation. 

"Hand placement was a coachable thing,” Foskey stated. “That was something I was focused on my senior year. It all starts with attacking the offensive tackle and the guard. Hand placement helped me a lot defending the run." 

As it relates to his draft process and growth, Foskey spoke highly of Notre Dame hiring Al Golden as defensive coordinator. Golden was able to show Foskey and the defense what is expected from NFL teams and prepare them for moments like this week. 

“He came from the Bengals and came straight from the Super Bowl,” Foskey explained. “He brought an NFL type of mindset right when he stepped into Notre Dame. He set that mindset for the whole defensive staff, defensive line, linebacker and back seven. 

"That was a good transition into the NFL where my mindset coming into the season was trying to have the best season so I could have the best shot at the NFL and get drafted the highest." 

Foskey will meet with every NFL team this week and outside of his versatility, the former Notre Dame star will look to show his genuine personality. 

"My approach to meeting with every team is to be myself,” said Foskey. “They know everything. I have nothing to hide. I want to be genuine and have them get to know me. My approach throughout the Senior Bowl is to show my versatility on pass rush, stop the run, drop some into coverage and probably do some linebacker stuff or go into the curl flats." 

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