Notre Dame record-holder Isaiah Foskey to skip the Gator Bowl, enter NFL Draft

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — From the moment he arrived at Notre Dame, Isaiah Foskey’s first-step quickness always stood out.

It came as little surprise then on Thursday afternoon when Foskey, the school’s all-time leader in sacks, announced he was declaring for the NFL Draft and would skip the Dec. 30 Gator Bowl against No. 19 South Carolina. The move would allow the star pass rusher to get a head start in preparations for the professional level.

Tight end Michael Mayer, Foskey’s fellow captain and record-setting teammate, announced his opt-out intentions on Wednesday.

Michael Mayer:Notre Dame tight end declares for NFL Draft, will opt out of Gator Bowl

A fourth-year junior who broke Justin Tuck’s career sack record on Senior Day against Boston College, Foskey added 1.5 sacks in his final college outing, a 38-27 loss to USC and Heisman Trophy favorite Caleb Williams.

“He didn’t come back just to break the (sack) record,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said on Senior Day. “He came back to win a national championship. He didn’t win a championship this year, but what he did for this program … to me will be the reason why we do win a national championship.”

Foskey, 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, played through nagging injuries this season that saw his defensive snap count drop to an average of 35 in wins over North Carolina and Brigham Young. He had just 3.5 sacks through the season’s first half, and for a time it appeared Foskey might fall short of Tuck’s record.

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Starting with a three-sack outburst against UNLV, a signature game that included the third and fourth blocked punts of Foskey’s career, the Antioch, Calif., product took off down the stretch. He finished with 11 sacks for a second straight season along with six quarterback hits, 14 tackles for loss and 45 tackles, fourth on the team.

Asked about the motivation of the sack record, Foskey insisted nothing had changed about his approach.

“I really don’t pay much attention to it,” he said on Nov. 1, four days before the Irish upset No. 4 Clemson. “I didn’t even know how many sacks I had until people started tagging me (on social media) and they started telling me. I don’t really look at stats. I don’t really care about stats. I just go out there and try to get the win.”

Nov 19, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) acknowledges the crowd after a sack in the second quarter against the Boston College Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame went 33-8 with Foskey on the field, including a four-game cameo while redshirting in 2019. He never missed a game due to injury.

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.