Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 31 things, Trucks saw a rare hunger and drive that would take Foskey places if he let it. Those attributes remain at Foskey's core (and, quite literally, helped shape it). They led him to a standout high school career at Concord (Calif.) De La Salle High School, to Notre Dame, to a start- ing defensive end job and to an 11-sack season this year. They helped cement his status as a clear NFL Draft prospect. "That's a rare tick," Trucks said. "You don't find it often." And in a way, it kept him with the Irish for one more season. Foskey's in- terest in the NFL goes beyond hearing his name in the draft and making a ros- ter. Those are no small feats themselves, but he's not eyeing football's peak just to stand there. Sound familiar? It did to Trucks, who was unsurprised when Foskey put the draft on hold. "He has that animal you want every athlete to have," Trucks said. "'I'm go- ing to find a way to get better even if it means I have to push through my cur- rent inabilities.'" And that's Foskey's plan — push just a bit more to reach the top rung. He's al- ready a high achiever. This fall, he posted the third-highest single-season sack to- tal in Notre Dame history. Draft analysts and the NFL College Advisory Board pegged him as a Day 2 pick. A pro ca- reer stood on his doorstep. With it came the chance to fulfill another long-stated goal: allow his mother, Roslyn, to retire from her job at a Bay Area hospital. He told it to come back in a year. "I want to become a first-round pick, the first one off the board," Foskey said. "I liked the second round, like being in it, but that's not the biggest goal. They said they want to see more consistency play to play and game to game." Foskey's transformation from flashy role player in 2020 to elite college foot- ball edge rusher in 2021 is rooted in the same idea. The transformation from po- tential-filled talent to producer requires its share of strain and focus, but reach- ing every last bit of his ceiling when he's already 90 percent there is another task altogether. The last steps to the summit are often the hardest. That's a metaphor for Notre Dame itself, which skillfully rebooted from a 4-8 disaster in 2016 to post five straight 10-win seasons, but has fallen short of the program's championship measuring stick. Foskey's return, along with center Jarrett Patterson's and defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola's, puts that goal closer in view. Foskey turning himself into a sure- fire first-round pick would further that cause and improve his financial outlook. Those are objectives 1A and 1B in 2022. "The main thing was the idea we can win a national championship under Coach [Marcus] Freeman, with the staff he's bringing in, all the players coming back," Foskey said. Notre Dame's staff began recruiting Foskey before the regular season ended, but those discussions felt less like a sales pitch and more like advice. To be clear, Freeman wanted Foskey back. Arguably no player with a stay-or-go decision to make after the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl could change the course of his first Notre Dame team more than Foskey. But the Irish head coach would have supported Foskey if he left, too, and he told him that. Fortunately for Freeman, Foskey di- gested the guidance he received from others he consulted and decided one more year in South Bend was best for him to meet his goals. Those other confidants didn't push him in one direction either. One was Trucks, who assured him the NFL would be there in a year if he made it wait. Another was former teammate Ade Ogundeji, who stayed at Notre Dame five seasons and was a fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons last year. Foskey's father, Terry, helped him leave no aspect of the decision uncovered. "He thinks through everything," Fos- key said of his dad. So does Foskey. The more he con- sidered the chance to boost his draft stock, chase a national title and gradu- ate from Notre Dame in December 2022, the more they pulled him back. He's not only returning, but showing up over- flowing with determination and self- assurance. "It's a life-changing decision, and it will be," Foskey said. "I feel like I made the right decision to come back. This is the best decision I've made." Life as a multi-millionaire will wait, because life at Notre Dame still pre- sented him with gains he wants to make and goals he wants to meet. As much as anything, it gave him a chance to push himself. And like those days at Trucks' gym, he ran toward it. "As much as people see an opportunity in the NFL," Trucks said, "he sees just as much an opportunity to stay around and create something amazing." ✦ "I want to become a first-round pick, the first one off the board. I liked the second round, like being in it, but that's not the biggest goal." FOSKEY ON THE NFL COLLEGE ADVISORY BOARD PROJECTING HIM AS A DAY 2 PICK

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