How did Isaiah Foskey join Michael Mayer on Notre Dame's list of consensus All-Americans? It's complicated
SOUTH BEND — Sometimes a little ambiguity is beneficial. It certainly favored the legacy of record-setting Notre Dame football star Isaiah Foskey.
Foskey, Notre Dame's career sacks leader, learned Thursday he would join Irish teammate Michael Mayer as consensus All-Americans after all. That actually gives the Irish 108 consensus first-team All-Americans after the school's sports information department discovered an omission.
Foskey and Mayer join Kyle Hamilton (2021), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (2020), Liam Eichenberg (2020), Julian Love (2018), Mike McGlinchey (2017), Quenton Nelson (2017), Ronnie Stanley (2015), Jaylon Smith (2015) and Manti Te'o (2012) among Notre Dame's most recent consensus All-Americans.
While Mayer outpolled Georgia tight end Brock Bowers for the first-team slot on three of the five All-America listings the NCAA uses for consensus and unanimous distinction, Foskey earned first-team honors from just two of those organizations: the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the American Football Coaches Association.
Foskey, a defensive end, was lumped in with the defensive tackles as both the Camp and AFCA voters named the top four defensive linemen in the land. Alabama star Will Anderson Jr. made first-team linebacker for both groups as well as the Football Writers Association of America, which named Foskey to its second-team defensive line.
Foskey was a second-team selection by the Associated Press and the Sporting News, both of which named Anderson as a first-team "edge" player. Foskey was designated as an "edge" by the AP but was voted to one of three defensive line spots by the Sporting News.
Regardless of labeling, three defensive lineman earned first-team honors on all five approved lists: Georgia's Jalen Carter, Pittsburgh's Calijah Kancey and USC's Tuli Tuipulotu. For consensus All-America purposes, Foskey got the fourth and final nod on the defensive line over Texas Tech's edge/linebacker hybrid Tyree Wilson, a first-teamer on one list and a second-team choice on three others.
Sophomore left tackle Joe Alt joined Mayer as second-team selections on the AFCA All-America team released Wednesday. Long snapper Michael Vinson and senior left guard Jarrett Patterson were first- and second-team All-America selections, respectively, by the AFCA, the only NCAA-approved list that recognizes long snappers.
On Tuesday, the Sporting News named Mayer its first-team All-America tight end. Alt and Foskey were named to the second team.
Mayer, also a first-team selection by the AP and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, helped Notre Dame further distance itself from runner-up Ohio State, which had 90 consensus All-Americans through last season.
Michigan was third with 85 all-time consensus All-Americans through 2021.
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Mayer, a prospective first-round NFL Draft pick who recently joined Foskey in opting out of the Dec. 30 Gator Bowl against South Carolina, is the first Notre Dame tight end to achieve consensus All-America status since Ken MacAfee in 1976-77. Dave Casper also reached that level in 1973.
On Monday, Alt was named a first-team All-America by the Associated Press. A late bloomer from North Oaks, Minn., and Totino-Grace High School, Alt is the son of former Pro Bowl left tackle John Alt, who spent 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (1984-96) and was a 2002 inductee into the Chiefs Hall of Honor.
Northwestern senior Peter Skoronski joined Joe Alt as the AP first-team tackles.
While Eichenberg was a consensus All-American in 2020, Alt is the first Notre Dame offensive tackle since Mike McGlinchey in 2017 to earn the first-team AP distinction.
College Football Hall of Famer Aaron Taylor was a two-time consensus All-American at Notre Dame (1992-93), including first-team AP honors in consecutive years, but those came at guard and tackle, respectively.
Notre Dame's only other offensive tackles to make first-team AP All-America since 1950 were Andy Heck (1988) and Bob Toneff (1951).
Alt was a second-team Walter Camp selection in the 133rd annual vote of head coaches and sports information directors.
Foskey, Mayer and Alt earned the second-team All-America nod from the FWAA.
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Bowers, the FWAA's first-team choice at tight end, also outpolled Mayer and Iowa’s Sam LaPorta for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation’s top tight end as voted by a 10-member selection committee. That panel includes a cross-section of media members as well as former NFL tight ends and Mackey Award winners.
In 12 games this season, Mayer trailed only Utah’s Dalton Kincaid in receptions (67) and receiving yards (809) by FBS tight ends. Mayer’s nine touchdown grabs led all tight ends, but he was unable to reach the end zone in two trips to the cities (Syracuse, N.Y., and Baltimore) where Mackey carved out his legacy.
Mayer had just three catches for 54 yards in Notre Dame's Oct. 29 win at Syracuse. Two weeks later, in a 35-32 neutral-site win over Navy, Mayer had just three catches for 23 yards.
Mayer did help close out both wins by lining up on the "hands team" as the Irish recovered onside kicks. In a rare sight for a star of his caliber, Mayer also contributed in that fashion against North Carolina and Clemson.
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Bowers, who had Heisman Trophy-finalist Stetson Bennett IV as his quarterback, ranked fifth among all tight ends in receptions (52), third in receiving yards (726) and tied for eighth with six touchdowns. Bowers was targeted 70 times to Mayer’s 101 and pulled down a higher percentage of those: 74.3 to Mayer’s 66.3.
According to Pro Football Focus, Mayer led all tight ends with a blocking grade of 92.5. Bowers was 12th at 84.9.
"Mike did that at the highest level," Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees said on Dec. 11. "You see him blocking and really dominate at the point of attack, and then also he has the ability (as a receiver), and really no one in the country could cover him. The Mackey Award, I guess, doesn't agree with it, but no one in the country can really cover him."
Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.
78th Annual TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
- Who: No. 21 Notre Dame (8-4) vs. No. 19 South Carolina (8-4)
- When: Friday, Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. EST
- Where: TIAA Bank Field (67,164), Jacksonville, Fla.
- TV/Radio: ABC, WSBT Radio (960 AM), WNSN (101.5 FM)
- Line: Notre Dame opens as a 4.5 -point favorite
- Series: Notre Dame leads 3-1
- Last meeting: South Carolina won 36-32 in South Bend (1984).