The team who drafts Notre Dame OLB Isaiah Foskey will be primarily getting a pass rusher. Someone who has racked up 20.5 sacks over the last two years. A player who forced six fumbles in 2021 and a prospect who went back to school to successfully improve his run defense.
But he’s not a three-down player and that isn’t a slight. Foskey made an impact on all four downs, blocking four punts in his Fighting Irish career.
Foskey is one of the top prospects at the 74th Senior Bowl held in Mobile, Alabama, and spoke during Tuesday’s opening press conference, highlighting his love and success on special teams.
“I like kickoff and punt return a lot,” he said Tuesday morning. “But any special teams, I’ll be willing just to help the team out to win the game. But punt return, I love punt return. This year I was able to block two punts, which is just a game-changing type of thing. Blocking punts is always fun.”
Foskey had plenty of fun in his career. His first block came in his first season, the 2019 regular-season finale against Stanford. The next came in 2020. Playing against the Pitt Panthers, Foskey barreled through the line, blocked the punt, and housed it late in the first half in a 45-3 blowout win.
But even as he emerged a starter, his block party continued. Still working on special teams even in 2022, he became the first player in Notre Dame history with two blocked punts in a game when he got his hands on a pair versus UNLV.
Foskey had to do the job and finish the play but acknowledged the coaching staff for putting him in position to get home free, crediting former special teams coordinator Brian Polian and current one Brian Mason.
“Coach Polley and Coach Mace, they pretty much set me up free. Both great two special teams coaches that I really admired to set me up free and set other guys up. I think we had probably like the most block punts in Notre Dame history…we had a lot of blocked punts, like seven blocked punts. So it’s up to the coaches and just determination for the players trying to get the block punt. But that’s the whole mentality of the punt block team.”
That’s proven in the tape. Against the Runnin’ Rebels, he came free up the middle each time, a direct path to the punter. At 6’5 with great length, he knows how to finish the play.
With a solid showing in Mobile, Foskey will work himself firmly into first-round conversation. Though EDGE depth is important to Pittsburgh, it’s unlikely to be a first-round or early second-round consideration, meaning Foskey is more likely to be playing against the Steelers than with him. Still, he’ll bring one common tie to the NFL. Like Najee Harris, Foskey is from Antioch, California and he’s proud to rep the Bay.
“Everyone knows about California but to put the Bay Area and people from that area more like on the map. Especially Antioch since people associate Antioch and Najee, now it’s kind of cool to see more people come out from Antioch.”
Even first-rounders sometimes have to cut their teeth on special teams. But for Foskey, it won’t be a chore, something he “has” to do in order to earn his stripes and use as a runway to playing defense. He’ll be a true every-down threat in the NFL, forcing defensive coordinators and special teams coaches to pay extra attention to him once he enters the league.