Marcus Freeman has already won some impressive recruiting battles in his year with Notre Dame, but on Saturday, a year to the day of news breaking that would be Notre Dame’s DC for 2021, he won his most significant to date. Junior defensive end Isaiah Foskey announced via Twitter that he was returning to Notre Dame for a senior season instead of leaving for the NFL Draft.
Isaiah Foskey moved into the starting lineup for the first time in his career this season and blew up. Before 2021, Foskey had just 4.5 career sacks. However, he ended the season as Notre Dame’s leading sack master with 11, just two off the single-season record of Justin Tuck’s. He also paced the Irish with 12.5 TFL.
Tuck’s single season record of 13.5 and his career record of 24.5 are both well within reach for Foskey in 2023. He needs just 10.0 to tie Tuck for first all-time. Note, all-time greats like the late Ross Browner and Alan Page aren’t on the career sack leader list since sacks weren’t recorded when they played.
Had Foskey left this year, he absolutely would have been drafted as high as the second round, but possibly in the third round, given the depth of the edge rushers in this draft. By returning, Foskey can play himself into first-round consideration for 2023. If we see the same type of improvement from him in 2023, there won’t be much consideration about it – he’ll be a first-round pick with his measurables.
With Foskey returning, Notre Dame’s defensive line is set up to be among the nation’s best, thanks to a trio of returnees that Foskey is a part of. Twins Justin and Jayson Ademilola announced their own returns to Notre Dame earlier this week. The Irish lose Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, but with the Ademilolas and Foskey back, the Irish defensive line could be even better in 2022 than it was in 2021.
Defensive line coach Mike Elston and whoever is named the next defensive coordinator will have a lot of options of the linemen at their disposal now. Jordan Botelho, for instance, could now possibly see a permanent move to ROVER, where he played a lot in 2021.
So far this off-season, Marcus Freeman is doing a great job at winning the re-recruitment battles that Notre Dame faced. Thus far, the only major one he’s lost is wide receiver Kevin Austin who decided to forgo a 5th year and opt for the NFL Draft shortly after the Fiesta Bowl. Foskey, however, joins the Ademilolas, DJ Brown, Braden Lenzy, Houston Griffith, George Takacs, and Josh Lugg in returning so far. The one looming decision that remains for the Irish is center Jarrett Patterson whose return would be another potential massive win for Freeman and the Irish.
Big Saturday for Notre Dame
Foskey’s return capped off a big Saturday of news for Notre Dame. Earlier in the day, Notre Dame landed All-American safety transfer Brandon Joseph from Northwestern to help shore up the backend of the Irish secondary following the loss of Kyle Hamilton to the NFL. Joseph has nine career interceptions, including on the plays of the year from 2020 when he hauled in a one-handed interception of Ohio State QB Justin Fields in the Big Ten Championship.