The Journal Gazette
Saturday, January 08, 2022 10:00 pm

Isaiah Foskey returning in 2022

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame defensive end Isaiah Foskey, who is tied for the national lead with six forced fumbles this season, will return for another year with the Irish in 2022, he announced today.

Foskey, who has already been named a Phil Steele Third-Team All-American with more honors likely to follow, has been a two-year contributor for the Irish and led the team with 12 1/2 tackles for loss and 11 sacks this season to go along with 52 tackles, six quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and a pass breakup.

"My love for the game of football ... has only grown through my time and my experience at Notre Dame," Foskey wrote in a statement. "To my coaches ... this is not the end, but a new beginning ... The beginning of a run to the National Championship and the (Marcus) Freeman Era. 

"To my teammates and brothers ... the mission was and always has been to graduate as champions. The only way to complete the mission the right way is to run it back."

Foskey's 11 sacks this season were third in Irish history and leave him just 10 short of Justin Tuck's Notre Dame career record of 24 1/2. There is a good argument to be made Foskey was Notre Dame's best player after All-American safety Kyle Hamilton's mid-year injury.

The Concord, California, native likely would have been a second- or third-round NFL Draft pick and few would have blamed him if he had left Notre Dame after contributing to 21 wins, two New Year's Six bowl appearances and a College Football Playoff berth over the last two years. His return is perhaps the best signal yet that Notre Dame's players have bought into Freeman's vision for the program and trust him to run the show in 2022. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Foskey could play himself into first-round status with a dominant senior season and he is trusting Freeman (and Notre Dame's as-yet-unnamed defensive coordinator) to put him in position to play that way.

Foskey's decision concludes a huge week for the Notre Dame defensive line in which Foskey, fellow defensive end Justin Ademilola and defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola all decided to return in 2022. Those were Notre Dame's top three in sacks in '21, combining for 19 1/2 and they were all among the top five in tackles for loss, accounting for 24. Even with the loss of gap-plugging nose tackle Kurt Hinish, the Irish should have one of the best defensive lines in the country next season.

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