SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame running back Tarean Folston learned not to take anything for granted, even practice, after a season-ending knee injury last year in the opener against Texas.
“It can be taken away at any time,” he said. “I’m going to this game saying I owe you something. I left a lot of games on the field last year because of injury. I’m ready to get back out there. I can’t wait.”
Folston tore his anterior cruciate ligament on his third carry of the season, making an open-field cut. He had been the leading rusher as a sophomore in 2014 with 889 yards on 175 carries and was expected to get even more carries last season as the only experienced back.
Instead, he watched as converted receiver C.J. Prosise rushed for 1,032 yards on 156 carries and left for the NFL and Josh Adams set a school freshman record with 835 yards on 117 carries.
“I’m ready to get this year kicked off,” Folston said.
During spring practice, he was still recovering from his injury and didn’t take any hits. He admits to feeling a little “jittery” when practice started this month.
“But I got that first snap I was like, ‘Man there’s no point being like this. This is what you do. Nothing’s changed. You went through a little adversity, but nothing’s changed,’” he said.
Coach Brian Kelly said Folston hasn’t shown any hesitancy.
“He’s running the inside zone play with that kind of recklessness that shows he is not concerned about his knee,” Kelly said.
Folston said the season off gave him a different mindset.
“I’m not going to say I hated practice, but I just had a different view,” said the senior from Cocoa, Florida. “Nobody wants to sit out from something they love. So I just go into practice with a different attitude, a different love for the game. It’s just different now. I can’t explain it.”
While Folston was expected to be the primary ball carrier last season, he goes into this season knowing he will be sharing the load for the 10th-ranked Irish with Adams and Dexter Williams, who has been drawing praise from Kelly for his play. Adams was one of the five players arrested Friday on preliminary charges of marijuana possession after being stopped by a state trooper in Fulton County.
Kelly plans to again give the ball to the back with the “the hot hand.”
“When C.J. got hot, we played him quite a bit. When Josh got hot, we played him. But I do think that we are a little bit different this year in that we do have some different styles,” he said.
Kelly describes Folston as “an elusive inside-out runner.” Adams is explosive and prefers to run on the outside. Williams can do both.
Folston said he isn’t worried about sharing carries, saying it will mean fewer hits and could reduce injuries.
“A lot of people think that having so many backs would be a negative thing. But when you look at it, it’s definitely a plus,” he said. “We can flip in and out and that can keep the backs fresh. So having that many guys is a plus.”