Notebook: What is the status of Irish DE target Isaiah Foskey?
SAN ANTONIO — The interview lasted 64 seconds before the interruption. NaNa Osafo-Mensah, a Notre Dame 2019 signee, had the urge to cut off fellow defensive end Isaiah Foskey.
He had exciting news.
“He’s going to Notre Dame, I’m telling you,” Osafo-Mensah said.
The Irish possess a better chance of landing Concord (Calif.) De La Salle’s Foskey compared to Carlsbad (Calif.) High’s Asa Turner. Both uncommitted recruits, who would mark signee No. 22 and 23 in ND’s 2019 class, are part of this week’s All-American Bowl practices. NBC will broadcast Saturday’s 1 p.m. EST game in the Alamodome.
Turner remains split between Washington and ND. Foskey’s strong lean toward the Irish became even clearer this week. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder forged a relationship with West teammate Osafo-Mensah. Ask about the Irish, and it’s likely that Foskey will light up and smile.
Questions about the other teams featured in Foskey’s Sept. 5 top five — Washington, Michigan, Ohio State and California — result in him delivering an all-business answer.
“I’m taking more officials in January,” Foskey said. “It is between California and Washington, which one I’ll go to, and then I’ll go to Michigan and Ohio State.”
If a visit occurs, it would put to rest the rumors. Reports surfaced that Foskey signed with ND in December but would not formally announce the decision until National Signing Day. Irish signee Andrew Kristofic acknowledged the rumor, unprompted, but said he has not confirmed that information.
“Yeah,” said Foskey on if the rumors were untrue. “I’m not sure where that came from.”
Foskey had the opportunity but took zero visits throughout December. His lone official visit since May was at ND for the Sept. 29 Stanford game. Foskey has no official visits scheduled this month, which could change, but if it doesn’t, expect no surprises on Feb. 6.
Osafo-Mensah and ND’s three signees for the East team — Jay Bramblett, Kyle Hamilton and Kristofic — are treating Foskey as if he already has inked with the Irish. The same could not be said for Turner.
“That’s my boy,” said Osafo-Mensah of Foskey. “We are even locker-room buddies right now. We are always talking about stuff — not just about football, but about life.”
A couple recruits who signed elsewhere approached Foskey amid Wednesday’s combined practice session. Defensive end Zach Harrison, one of the nation’s top players that signed with Ohio State, told Foskey he should join the Buckeyes.
To Harrison’s misfortune, Kristofic was within earshot.
“We were like, ‘No, he’s one of us,’” Kristofic said.
The tentative plan for Foskey, he said, is to announce his decision on signing day with Henry To’oto’o, his De La Salle teammate. Foskey will notify the school he chooses the night of Feb. 5. So don’t expect a commitment, unlike Turner, who said he will commit “at least one week” before signing with ND or Washington.
Schools, including ND, initially recruited Foskey at tight end. His change of heart was welcomed by Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston. Although the West alternates Foskey and Osafo-Mensah at weak-side defensive end, the Irish have different intentions.
Osafo-Mensah is set to line up on the weak-side, whereas Foskey would play on the strong-side. That is subject to change. What won’t change, however, is the demeanor among ND’s signees and coaching staff toward Foskey.
They are certain he’s coming to South Bend.
“They all have the same thing to say, that if football does not work out, you’ve got a degree from Notre Dame,” Foskey said. “You can go a long way with that. They all know that I’m hard on academics. I like academics a lot.
“I just like that they are school first, rather than football first. That’s unique with the schools 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. I noticed that.”
— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 3, 2019Lopsided practices
The individual practices for the East and West have lasted the same — three hours (Tuesday), one-and-a-half hours (Wednesday) and two hours (Thursday). The similarities have been few and far between.
While the East’s practices include some contact and one-on-one drills, the West squad has been mostly limited to light work.
“I want to have more competition, that would be more fun,” Osafo-Mensah said. “The West team is loaded. I love our team. But I wish we did more competitions.”
— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) January 3, 2019
Both teams joined for an hour-and-a-half on Wednesday and underwent a few one-on-one drills. In fact, Kristofic battled against Osafo-Mensah. Hamilton has seen the most one-on-one action throughout the week and has often competed against Cornelius Johnson, a receiver ND targeted who landed with Michigan.
“It prepares us for the game,” Hamilton said. “If the West isn’t doing it, then I feel like they are going to be shocked once they get into the game. To have that preparation is good, and having those one-on-ones is good, too.”
Hamilton was named a finalist for the All-American Bowl’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, an honor he didn’t know existed until recently.
“At this point, I guess I was highly rated, but I wasn’t like the Nolan Smith of this class,” Hamilton said. “Guys that everyone considers at the top of this class.”
The winner will be announced during Friday’s awards show, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. EST. The other finalists are Purdue signee George Karlaftis, LSU signee Derek Stingley Jr. and Ty Robinson, an uncommitted recruit.
“When I first got nominated for it, I wasn’t expecting to get it at all,” Hamilton said. “It is a blessing to be nominated for such a prestigious award. With all these guys here, the best football players in the country, a lot of us are going to be in the league someday. It is kind of cool that I’ve been considered as one of the best.”
WHO: Team East vs. Team West
WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m. (EST)
WHAT: All-American Bowl
WHERE: Alamodome (72,000); Orlando, Fla.