Tarean Folston – Breakout Candidates ’14

Tarean Folston - Notre Dame RB
(Photo: Tommy LaPorte/Icon SMI)

After running through some players whose careers are coming to a crossroads with time running out for them to make their marks, we started profiling players who could break out in 2014.  We started with sophomore tight end Durham Smythe on Tuesday morning and we are continuing on with another sophomore on the offensive side of the ball – Tarean Folston.

Pedigree

Notre Dame won a heated recruiting battle for Tarean Folston.  Tony Alford led the charge to lure the dynamic running back out of his home state of Florida over the in-state powers on top of a host of elite programs like Oregon, Stanford, Tennessee, and South Carolina.  Notre Dame even survived a late charge from Auburn.

Tarean Folston - Notre Dame RB
December 11 2010: Cocoa Tigers Running Back Tarean Folston runs around Glades Central Defensive Back Jamorris Everett during the 2010 FHSAA State Title game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando Florida . The Cocoa Tigers defeated the Glades Central Raiders 14-13 to earn their 38th straight victory and 3rd consecutive Class 2A State Title. (Photo – Justin Dernier/Icon SMI)

What made Notre Dame’s landing of Folston even more impressive was the fact that the Irish already had secured a commitment from 5-star RB Greg Bryant at the time.  That should also give you a little indication about Folston’s confidence level in his own game.  Any time a running back commits with another elite back already on board you know you have a back that isn’t afraid of competition.

Folston was an Under Armour All-American out of high school and made his commitment to Notre Dame during the bowl practices.  Folston was one of two Notre Dame commits to standout at the game along with then commit Alex Anzalone.  Anzalone never signed with the Irish.  Luckily for Notre Dame, Folston did.

Why Folston May Break Out

Folston got a jump start on his backfield classmate Greg Bryant when a nagging knee injury forced Bryant to shut down his rookie campaign early on resulting in a red-shirt for the more highly rated of Notre Dame’s talented freshmen backs.  Even with the early start on Bryant, Folston took a little while to get comfortable with the playbook and earn playing time in a backfield that lacked a go to back a year ago.

Once Folston was given a chance though, he didn’t disappoint.  In a largely forgettable squeaker of a win over Navy in November Folston had his coming out party with a 140 yard performance on 18 carries including his first career touchdown.  The yardage wasn’t even the most impressive part of Folston’s performance – it was the way in which he picked up those yards.  Folston displayed the kind of vision, balance, and power that you look for in a go to back.

Folston didn’t have another 100+ yard game, but showed enough in 2013 to show that he has all of the tools needed to be a go to back.  With George Atkinson trying to make a NFL roster this summer, the Notre Dame backfield opened up a little bit and Folston ended up at the top of the depth chart coming out of the spring.

Why Folston Might Not Break Out

Honestly, the only thing that could keep Folston from breaking out in 2014 is an injury or too much balance on the offensive side of the ball for Notre Dame in 2014.  Notre Dame looks like it could have the most dynamic offense we’ve seen in South Bend in nearly a decade (2005).  That might be the only thing that could hold Folston back – not enough carries to go around with Bryant and senior Cam McDaniel in the backfield.

Tarean Folston - Notre Dame RB
Tarean Folston (25) in action during a football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Temple Owls, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Temple Owls by the score of 28-6. (Photo: Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

One area that Folston did not shine much as a freshman though was receiving the ball out of the backfield.  Folston caught just five passes for 36 yards throughout his rookie season.  If he is unable to show significant improvement in that area, whichever back does will see some significant playing time on third down.   We did start to see more of that ability out of Folston in the Blue-Gold game though.   Other than that, it is really hard to find a reason why Folston might not have a huge season in 2014.

2014 Outlook

Folston will start fall camp at the top of the Notre Dame depth chart and baring injury, he is in line for a huge sophomore campaign.  Given the presence of Bryant and McDaniel, it might be tough for Folston to get enough carries to put up jaw dropping numbers this year, but I fully expect the Florida native to end the season with a jaw dropping highlight reel featuring a lot of runs similar to his cut on a dime/jump cut combo run against Navy.

Look for Notre Dame to have a backfield rotation this season similar to what we saw in 2011 when Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray both looked primed to top 1,000 yards before Gray tore his ACL on senior day.  The only difference is Notre Dame will have a third back in the mix this year with McDaniel.  Regardless of how the carries are split out, Folston will have a prominent role in a potentially prolific offense in 2014 and will have a healthy competition with his classmate Greg Bryant for the next few seasons.  Big things are on the horizon for Folston as early as this season.

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27 Comments

  1. For us to be great we must emulate what great teams do.

    Last Winter, we took a small step when we LOST Niklas, Tuitt and Atkinson after their third year. It ain’t ’88. The landscape is different, and unless we lose 2-3 juniors a year then are talent lis not that good. I may be in a minority, but I would be pleased, thrilled if Daniels (a year of eligibility left), Day, Russell and Stanley were first day draft picks in 2015.

    Similarly, the old mode of the star running lback , pervasive in the 60’s and 70’s is over.

    When Bama had Mark Ingram, they also had Trent Richardson.
    then they backed up Richardson with Yeldon, and with Yeldon they have a “bevy” of backs including Derrick Henry and Altee Teepenny. USC, the late, great home of “the ball ain’t heavy” tailbacks has used a team approach since Carroll arrived.

    It’s not who is the starter, it is how deep your array.

    This year it is a troika of Bryant, Folston and McDaniel.

    Next year, we hope it’s a quartet of Bryant, Folston, Jamobo and Adams.

    It’s a brave new world. The question of whether Bryant or Folston is better is so last century, so ESPN.

    Depth, team, think conjunctively (Both/And) not disjunctively
    (Either/or).

  2. “Once Folston was given a chance though, he didn’t disappoint. In a largely forgettable squeaker of a win over Navy in November Folston had his coming out party with a 140 yard performance on 18 carries including his first career touchdown. The yardage wasn’t even the most impressive part of Folston’s performance – it was the way in which he picked up those yards. Folston displayed the kind of vision, balance, and power that you look for in a go to back.”

    The fingerprint of a future NFL back to be.

    1. Because if he can run that well against members of the Naval Academy who wanted to try their hands at football, then certainly he can shred any defense.

      1. Yeah, I mean what’s wrong with committing to the pass? I suppose trying to be a balanced offense would be frowned upon too

  3. A healthy Greg Bryant will outshine Folston and Mcdaniel. They will all get there carries but Bryant will be the horse.

  4. Tarean is the closes thing to a Ryan Grant I have seen…flashes of brilliance and hard hitting, he should have a career in the NFL…I just want him to have a breakout season this year. If we pass as much as I think we will and we have 3 great running backs piling up yardage then our wins will pile up. If we have too many interceptions and our ground game can’t move the ball we will be stuck in the mediocre mire once again…

    1. Ryan Grant was just a straight ahead runner with no moves whatsoever. He never should have started over Julius Jones that last year. Anyway, based on the limited playing time he’s been given, it appears TF has much more in his arsenal than Grant ever had. Although Grant did surprise me a little bit in the NFL, his running style never really changed.

      1. Way to go Woody. Insult the best and bravest college kids in our country and the future defenders of our freedom.

  5. Tarean Folston = NFL future if matures, develops & remains reasonably healthy which is not easy for runningbacks.

  6. I like what I’ve seen from Folston. Along with McDaniel and Bryant ND has a very strong backfield and when you add in Golson’s ability to move well with the ball and advance the ball on the ground too, ND should be able move the ball at will for long stretches of most games. All three of these backs should be used and used often. By the time ND gets to the FSU game they had better have a very strong ground game and there is no reason in the world for ND not to have one. Controlling the clock vs FSU will be extremely important. FSU will annihilate ND if ND allows FSU the ball for better than 25 minutes on O.

    The only reason I see an ill worked out ground game where these three RB’s don’t have big numbers, (yds per carry) will be if Kelly does not build a ground game into the offense which is not so far from Kelly’s history while at ND.

    1. So what you’re really trying to say is Kelly doesn’t run the ball enough?

      That’s a very good point!

      I think you should come back tomorrow and remind us again so we don’t forget.

    2. I think Jim’s got a good point. In his final sentence he really gives the perspective used in making his argument. I realize this isn’t English class, but I think Jim’s just tying to add another point, not out-argue anyone like a law-scum.

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