DE Isaiah Foskey announces signing with Notre Dame

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Isaiah Foskey’s decision did not come as a surprise.

The four-star defensive end signed a National Letter of Intent with Notre Dame, announcing it Wednesday afternoon on ESPNU. In fact, Foskey inked with ND during the Dec. 19-21 early signing period, according to a source close to the program.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder did not make his decision public so he could announce with Henry To'oto'o, a friend and former teammate of Foskey's at Concord (Calif.) De La Salle.

As expected, four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey (@IFoskey) chooses #NotreDame. Sounded just a little nervous #NSD19. pic.twitter.com/vNFiH8ny53

— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) February 6, 2019

Foskey told reporters in early January that he hoped to take three additional visits. Ohio State, Michigan and either Washington or California were the desired destinations.

His mind had been made up, though, and his decision had already been made official. Foskey’s final official visit came on a Sept. 29 trip to South Bend for the Stanford game.

“I just like that they are school first, rather than football first,” Foskey told ND Insider at the All-American Bowl last month. “That’s unique with the schools that I have visited. They are all football. But when I went to Notre Dame for my official and unofficial, it went straight to academics and then football later.”

247Sports slates Foskey as the No. 13 weakside defensive end and No. 203 overall player in the 2019 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 15 weakside defensive end. As of Wednesday evening, ND’s 22-player class ranks No. 14 on Rivals and No. 15 on 247Sports.

The Irish coaching staff were not made available for interviews. ND instead published video content throughout the day, including in-house interviews.

“We were looking for a pass-rusher,” ND head coach Brian Kelly said in a video. “Certainly any time that you finish up your recruiting, you want to finish with somebody that can make an impact. We think Isaiah comes from a great program at De La Salle. It is a great fit, strong student.

“But more importantly, I think we needed that guy that can make a presence in our defense. If you are looking at it from an NFL perspective, those guys that get paid a lot of money are those cornerbacks and guys that can rush the quarterback, and he can certainly do that.”

Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network, said Foskey reminds him of Isaac Rochell. A multi-year starting defensive lineman for the Irish, Rochell recorded 167 tackles, 22 TFLs and 4.5 sacks from 2013-16.

“I would say he’s a low four-star guy, but he’s got ability. And he’s a good guy to get,” Lemming said. “He could grow into somebody that’s really good if he just puts on a little more weight and strength.

“He might end up playing inside. He’s a defensive end, but he’s got the ability and the length, long arms that you look for in a defensive lineman. He’s got a good first step.”

Four of ND’s 2019 defensive linemen — Howard Cross III, Jacob Lacey, Hunter Spears and Foskey — are four-star recruits on Rivals. The Irish have signed a quartet of defensive linemen with at least a four-star rating just twice since Rivals starting rating recruits in 2002.

Defensive tackles Sean Cwynar and Brandon Newman and defensive ends Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore were four-star recruits on Rivals in ND’s 2008 class. The 2011 class included five-star defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Ishaq Williams and four-star defensive ends Aaron Lynch and Ben Councell.

Defensive ends NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Cross and Foskey would have been consensus four-star recruits had Osafo-Mensah not dropped in the final Rivals rankings. Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara — both 2016 signees — are ND’s only defensive ends rated higher than three stars in the previous four classes.

Defensive line coach Mike Elston made a concerted effort to land a talented class at his position group for 2019. Elston moved back to coaching the defensive line before the 2017 season. He spent two seasons coaching linebackers in 2015-16 after coaching defensive linemen at Notre Dame the previous five seasons.

“I thought he did a really good job,” Lemming said. “Elston is a very good recruiter, and he’s been recruiting players at his own position to make himself look good. That’s smart. If they all did that, they’d be in really good business. It’s a very good group. An outstanding group. Guys that can come in and immediately contribute.”

The Irish announced 21 signees on Dec. 19, the first day of the early signing period. It allowed ND to focus onward to the 2020 and 2021 classes. The Irish staff took to the recruiting trail from Jan. 11 to Feb. 2 for the contact period.

The only 2019 players left on the board were German defensive tackle Joseph Appiah Darkwa and linebacker Asa Turner.

“Signing day in February is totally anti-climactic,” Irish recruiting coordinator Brian Polian said. “I’m here in a polo shirt. Two years ago, I was in a tie pacing around the room … We have a much clearer picture right now of who we are focused on than maybe we did a year ago.”

Elston traveled to Germany last week and hoped to make a late run at Darkwa. He never announced it, but Darkwa received an offer from the Irish, according to Brandon Collier of PPI Recruits. Darkwa committed to Penn State on Feb. 1.

ND fell out of the running for Turner when the Carlsbad (Calif.) High product recommitted to Washington on Jan. 31. Turner’s week at the All-American Bowl in January hindered ND’s progress with him.

The West squad played Turner at linebacker, which is where the Irish desired him. The Huskies saw the 6-foot-4, 201-pounder as a safety, a position in which he shined at the Polynesian Bowl later that month.

For Foskey, the All-American Bowl helped him forge a relationship with four of ND’s signees, especially Osafo-Mensah.

“That’s my boy,” Osafo-Mensah said of Foskey. “We are even locker-room buddies right now. We are always talking about stuff — not just about football, but about life.”

Osafo-Mensah even interrupted ND Insider’s interview with Foskey, saying, “He’s going to Notre Dame, I’m telling you.”

He was right.

Want more coverage on Notre Dame's 2019 class? Click here to visit our signing day page complete with bios on each Irish signee.

Four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey announced his college decision on Wednesday.