{{ timeAgo('2023-03-01 14:07:20 -0600') }} football Edit

Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey starts to make his case at NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — Isaiah Foskey didn’t need to explain the sequence in great detail.

Anyone who followed closely his senior season at Notre Dame knew about his back-to-back, goal-line stuffs against North Carolina in September. Notre Dame’s star defensive end and linebacker Jack Kiser combined for consecutive tackles for loss before the Irish defense eventually caved on fourth-and-goal of the opening drive in a 45-32 Irish victory.

“I feel like all 32 teams know I can stop the run and get to the passer,” Foskey said Wednesday to reporters as part of his NFL Scouting Combine experience in Indianapolis. “The UNC game, those back-to-back plays showing I can dominate a tackle and get a TFL on back-to-back plays.”

But then, because the NFL Combine is a place for football junkies to geek out, Foskey was asked to explain how it all happened.

"The first time I got the TFL, I was just basically, 'Let me go right through the tackle.' That was my mentality, especially since it was goal line,” Foskey said. “Let me get that first step down and go right through the tackle. I pretty much did that, but redirected really fast and got the TFL.

"The second time, it happened in like a split second. I just reacted really fast. I was like, 'Wow. This is the like the exact same play.' They ran the same play twice in a row. There was one extra blocker. So I just did the same thing twice in a row, but it helped me.”

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Foskey and the rest of the defensive linemen will be the first group to be put through workouts Thursday in Lucas Oil Stadium (3 p.m. EST on NFL Network). Though Foskey has plenty of highlight plays he can point to from his college career, he wants to give NFL personnel even more reason to think highly of him.

“I feel like there’s nothing I can prove (this week),” Foskey said, “but just showcase that I’m one of the fastest defensive ends for my size. I’m one of the most athletic guys. I can jump the highest, broad jump the farthest. Anything that you guys test me with, I’m pretty much going to be the top prospect for it.”

If Foskey’s testing numbers match that confidence, maybe Foskey can push himself into first-round consideration. The consensus All-American will almost certainly be selected within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, which begins April 27 in Kansas City, Mo.


After recording 11 sacks as a junior in 2021, Foskey could have opted for an early entry to the 2022 draft, but he chose to remain at Notre Dame. The decision allowed Foskey to make 11 more sacks as a senior and set a Notre Dame record for career sacks with 26.5. He broke the record of 24.5 set by Justin Tuck in 2004.

It’s a decision Foskey is proud he made.

"It definitely benefited me,” Foskey said. “My junior year, I feel like I wasn’t ready for the NFL. I wasn’t mentally prepared. But now coming into senior year, coming into this position now, I feel like I’m more mentally prepared. I’m more aggressive, smarter, more physical and I just feel like I’m an overall better player right now.”

There should be little uncertainty about what Foskey was at the college level with his last two productive seasons at Notre Dame. Where the guessing game begins is what he will become in the NFL.

Foskey sees himself best fitting as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense given his experience playing in a two-point stance at Notre Dame’s vyper defensive end position. Whether the position is considered more of a linebacker or defensive end, Foskey believes he has the qualities to be an every-down edge player.

“That’s who I am,” Foskey said. “I stop the run and can get to the quarterback. You want to create negative plays.”

Foskey isn’t satisfied with a simple sack counting as a negative play. That’s why he forced seven fumbles in the last two seasons.

“Getting a sack is just normal. Everyone always gets a sack. Everyone always does it,” Foskey said. “But the next step is always getting to the ball. That’s what the defense wants. That’s what every team wants.

“It’s not just about getting a sack, getting a negative play. You can get a negative play, and they can still get a deep shot for 20 yards and get a first down. If you get that ball, it’s pretty much game over. Plus-one in the turnover margin and hopefully you get a touchdown. You get to celebrate in the end zone, especially in the NFL.”


Former Notre Dame defensive end Isaiah Foskey spoke to reporters Wednesday ahead of his NFL Combine workout Thursday in Indianapolis.
Former Notre Dame defensive end Isaiah Foskey spoke to reporters Wednesday ahead of his NFL Combine workout Thursday in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Foskey pointed to his strip sacks of Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and Georgia Tech’s Jordan Yates as plays that best exemplified who he is as a player. And Foskey’s still disappointed he didn’t block Ridder to give linebacker Drew White a better chance at returning the fumble for a touchdown.

Foskey also found ways to impact games in pressuring punters. He blocked three throughout his Notre Dame career and played a significant role in his team’s ability to block seven in 2022. Special teams coordinator Brian Mason started to get Foskey to think of that unit as a punt block unit rather than a punt return unit.

“It’s something that I always wanted to keep doing because it’s a big momentum changer,” Foskey said. “I feel like my effort, my competitiveness and my thinking, ‘I’m going to block this punt on this play right now.’ That’s just my thinking every time I go into punt block. I don’t know if everyone else has that mentality, but that’s my mentality. I just need to be one guy and get there at the fastest point.”

What made Foskey such a successful pass rusher — speed and power — allowed Foskey to be a successful punt blocker. He’s continued to work on his pass rush package trainer Brandon Jordan, who’s also Michigan State’s pass rush specialist. That’s Jordan’s actual title with the Spartans.

Foskey spent some time with Jordan prior to participating in Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., earlier this year. Foskey chose to sit out the actual game after making some splashes in drills.

“That experience was great,” Foskey said. “You’re going against great offensive tackles. The Senior Bowl brings in a lot of great people, great tackles who are going to be great in the NFL too."

Foskey won’t know for nearly two months where his NFL future lies, but he’s been reassured by how well his interviews have gone with NFL teams so far. By the time he spoke to reporters Wednesday morning, he had already met formally with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings.

The goal Thursday is to give them much more to like than question.

“I feel like they all pretty much liked me,” Foskey said. “They like how I play. They see the passion I have in the game and how relentless I am going to the football. They know it’s not going to stop.”



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