College Football Player to Watch; Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

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Welcome to the week 1 edition of a weekly feature here at the Full 10 Yards CFB where I will be putting one draft eligible player under the microscope each week. I’ll be giving you a player to watch for in the upcoming round of college football and a host of reasons why you need to get some eyeballs on them.

This week I’ve got Isaiah Foskey in my sights, the defensive end from the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish. Very apt for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’ll never shy away from giving love to the edge rushers! Next, Georgia vs. Oregon aside, the Irish against the Ohio State Buckeyes is the game of the week and lastly, well… and this is tenuous, Ireland has just done itself proud with their hosting of Nebraska and Northwestern this past weekend, so anything Ireland is kind of in vogue.

First up, who is Isaiah Foskey?

Foskey arrived on campus in South Bend as a 4-star prospect who was a tight end/defensive end hybrid out of Concord, California. He stood at 6’4 and tipped the scales at 235lbs, right now, Notre Dame lists Foskey as 6’5 and 265lbs and he is well and truly a high-level defensive end.

Production wise, Foskey’s numbers have grown year-in, year-out at Notre Dame in almost every sense. He’s become more important to the team, he’s started more games, and his tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles have grown exponentially. Last year in his Junior season, Foskey registered 9.5 TFLs, 10 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, so we are looking at a player who is a star for this unit and can provide the Irish with splash plays.

As we covered on our Summer Scouting Podcast on Defensive Line and Edge Defenders – which you can listen to here via our LinkTree – I have Foskey slated as my number 3 ranked edge rusher moving into the season.

So, we can see that he puts up numbers – So how does he do it?

I’ve got a couple of plays cued up below but before showing you what he does, I’ll say that Foskey is a nuanced pass rusher, who has a nice balance between speed and power rushes and he’s a dynamic player who jumps off the screen. So there should be no problem keeping your eyes on #7 when he’s lining up on Saturday. 

Foskey lines up in a position known as the VYPER position in Notre Dame’s defense, which is the stand-up edge defender/linebacker hybrid. So as much as his preferred position is stood up at the line of scrimmage on the end of the three down linemen, it’s not uncommon to see Foskey on the second level of the defense dropping into coverage alongside the other linebackers.

Let’s start here with a demonstration of Foskey’s power and independent hand usage which comes from the USC game from last year…

Isaiah Foskey, Long Arm Sack vs. USC 2021

Foskey is the nearside of the screen (yellow arrow) aligned at wide-9 for the Irish, he starts with a little stutter-step and then jabs in the long arm, with his inside-arm. The independent hand usage can be seen from the second, endzone angle – As the tackle tries to engage, Foskey swipes his hand away with his off-hand, whilst driving him back with the long arm. Foskey then shows a nice amount of power and dips his shoulder momentarily to establish more leverage and walk the tackle back. The cherry on top is that he continues to keep his off-hand free and uses it to get the strip sack. 

Isaiah Foskey Finishes the Game with a Sack vs. USC 2021

Next up I’ve got a demonstration of pure effort and motor. The QB gets himself in trouble here, and that helps, but Foskey has his initial rush stopped, but he comes back, again showing good understanding of leverage and shows his power to unbalance the tackle (#70) before wrapping up the QB and the game.

Ok last one, this one is from the Cincinnati game from last year and I want to show you how Foskey can also be trusted in the run game…

Foskey Shows his Run Defense vs. Cincinnati 2021

Foskey lines up at his favoured wide-9 alignment, but the left guard and tackle double-team inside leaving Foskey isolated, with the right guard (#51) pulling in his direction. Foskey shows his stoutness and takes him on before dispatching him to the side, as the running back (Jerome Ford, now of the Cleveland Browns) gets into his vicinity and he, alongside a team mate, is able to stuff the run for no gain. I also love that Foskey almost drives the runner out of the frame.

Alongside these kinds of plays, I have seen a lot of evidence of Foskey’s athleticism, including his range to cover all the way to the sideline, both when he lines up as a linebacker and in backside pursuit. I also feel like Foskey shows great play recognition in the run game and can deconstruct blocks and flow to the ball with ease. However, to me, his best work comes when he lines up as a traditional pass rusher and he’s allowed to be a QB hunter.

Alongside all of this, it’s the potential match up which could make Foskey an even more mouth watering watch…

In particular, I will be looking at Foskey when he’s lining up against Ohio State’s new left tackle, Paris Johnson Jr. Johnson spent last year playing at right guard and is now flipping over to left tackle as Thayer Munford’s replacement.

This should be an adjustment for Johnson, albeit, he is rated highly by draftniks and fans alike. Johnson, like Foskey is a good athlete and he does have long arms which he could use to nullify Foskey, since one weakness of Foskey is his lack of natural and anatomical length. However, given the playmaking ability, the nuance in his game and ability to mix up his plan of attack, Foskey could catch Johnson cold before he gets into his stride at his new position.

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So to conclude…

Foskey has all the tools at his disposal to cause Paris Johnson Jr., or indeed any of the other Ohio State lineman some issues this weekend. This is the #2 team in the country hosting the #5 team so there are going to be a tonne of matchups all over the field but I do believe that this not only involves a pair of talented, draft eligible players, but it could be a match up that the game could hinge on. If Foskey and his colleagues in the front seven can disrupt CJ Stroud, then Ohio State could be on the end of another early season humbling, just as they suffered vs. Oregon last year in week 2. 

Check back each and every Friday as I will be dropping these Player to Watch articles each week to set you up for your weekend of watching college football, and don’t forget to stick around for all of the other great work that will be rolling throughout the season from all of our guys. Isn’t it just great to have football back?!

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