Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 16 of 55 OCT. 17, 2020 17 intensity provided at a Catholic school, to a demanding and legendary football program, Foskey found the University of Notre Dame to be a perfect fit. "The football team has a tradition and a culture, and the school being such a prestigious college, you can get the best of both worlds coming here," he said. STAY THE COURSE As a true freshman last season, Fo- skey watched and learned under the tutelage of star edge duo Julian Ok- wara and Khalid Kareem — two 2020 NFL Draft picks. This season, Foskey is working behind and learning from fifth-year starting ends Daelin Hayes and Ade Ogundeji — two projected 2021 NFL Draft picks. The talent and depth within this position group — the Irish coaches have already rotated in 11 defensive linemen this season — has limited Foskey's playing time, but not his production. Foskey has played only about 25 percent of the defensive snaps this season, yet, he still leads the Irish with 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and four quarterback hurries. "He's a playmaker," Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. "You take all of the athleticism he has, it's no good unless you know what you're doing and you do it the right way. He does that. He takes his role very seriously. You can see that in the way he plays." A quick start to 2020 aside, Foskey is probably still best remembered for his timely blocked punt as a fresh- man last season against Stanford in a game the Irish trailed 17-7. The play set up a critical touchdown, flipped momentum, propelled Notre Dame to 31 straight points and helped the Irish turn the early deficit into a dominating 45-24 victory. "That play was perfect timing to turn things around, get everybody's heart- beats back up," Foskey said. "That play gave me a lot of confidence." At 257 pounds and a lanky 6-5 — with a wingspan that stretches well beyond that — Foskey has added about 20 pounds of good weight from this time last season. And like another conspicuous Irish defensive lineman who donned No. 7 — second-round NFL Draft pick Ste- phon Tuitt (2011-13) — Foskey passes the eye test as well as anyone on the 2020 Irish defense, save perhaps for 6-4 All-American safety Kyle Hamilton. While looking the part is a great place to start, mastering the proper techniques of playing the "vyper" end position became the primary off- season task for Foskey. "The problem I had last year [was] not using my hands, and that's what I feel limited me from not being on the playing field as much," Foskey explained of growing more comfort- able lining up as a stand-up pass rusher rather than playing from a three-point stance. Foskey's explosiveness and length translate well to playing the vyper position. His greatest adjustment re- mains learning how to get low and stay low when starting a play high. Kept from any organized team workouts through much of the off- season because of COVID-19, Foskey spent most of this summer working to improve his handwork alongside Ogundeji. The season remains young, but given the early returns, a summer spent with a future NFL Draft pick was time well invested for Foskey. "We think [Foskey] can be a very special player," Kelly said last No- vember. "He can impact our sub pack- age in particular and be a starter in that sub package. He can influence the pass rush for us in a positive way." With a redshirt year preserved from 2019 and now an extra year of eligibility in 2021 granted by the NCAA for fall sports athletes because of COVID-19, Foskey will return next season with all four years still to play at Notre Dame, though with a prom- ising NFL future, it's unlikely he'll use them all. "He's an awesome player and an awesome young man," Alumbaugh said. "He's making the most of every opportunity right now which will bring him many more as he goes. The sky really is the limit for Isaiah." ✦ "He's a playmaker. You take all of the athleticism he has, it's no good unless you know what you're doing and you do it the right way. He does that. He takes his role very seriously. You can see that in the way he plays." NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY ON FOSKEY Foskey — holding 6-month-old Benicio Alumbaugh, who has become his biggest fan, along with his former head coach Justin Alumbaugh — was a beloved figure during his time at De La Salle High School near Oakland, Calif. PHOTO COURTESY JUSTIN ALUMBAUGH

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