It took Josh Adams one carry in just the 2nd quarter of his first collegiate game to find the endzone for Notre Dame a year ago. By the end of the season, Adams ran for more yards than any freshman running back in the history of Notre Dame football. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit thinks the sophomore back could do even more in 2016.
Herbsreit was asked on Twitter to pick a breakout star in college football this year. The one and only name he mentioned? Josh Adams
Josh Adams from ND could have a big year. Outside of the obvious look out for TCU in the Big 12. https://t.co/HLpSh0RbTn
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) August 7, 2016
As a freshman Adams ran for 835 yards on just 117 carries to break Darius Walker’s freshman rookie record of 786 yards. It took Walker 185 carries to reach his mark though. Had Adams recorded the same number of carries, his rushing total would have been 1,320 at his 7.1 yards/carry average.
Along the way Adams racked up four 100+ yard performances including a career mark of 168 yards including a 62 yard touchdown in the season finale against Stanford. Adams found the endzone in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State as well despite getting just 14 carries against the Buckeyes while filling in for CJ Prosise.
Adams broke another Notre Dame record in 2015 as well with a 98 yard touchdown run against Wake Forest – the longest run ever in Notre Dame Stadium history.
All of this would seem to make it obvious that Adams is ready to explode in 2016. There is one thing standing in Adams way, however, and that is senior running back Tarean Folston. Adams opportunities a year ago were made possible in part by Folston’s ACL injury in the first quarter of the season opener. Prior to that injury, Folston was considered to be on a different level than the other Irish backs.
With Folston back in 2016, how the carries get divided are one of the more interesting storylines surrounding the Notre Dame offense. Folston does not have Adams top end speed – few backs do. When healthy, he does, however, have uncanny vision and is a better inside-outside runner than Adams who is more of an edge runner at this point in his career.
Odds are both backs will play a lot this year assuming both stay healthy with Folston likely being called upon more in short yardage situations and Adams serving as the home run hitter of the group. In a perfect world, Folston would resume the role he had last fall with Adams filling the role CJ Prosise was expected to fill before Folston’s injury thrust Prosise, the converted wide receiver, into the starting tailback for the Irish.
Still, it’s interesting to see a national pundit point to Adams as a potential breakout star in college football this year. Notre Dame is absolutely stacked at running back with Adams and Folston and sophomore Dexter Williams who is one of the least talked about players on the team that I am personally really excited about.