Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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26 PRESEASON 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED "[Now] I'm like, 'Yes, let's go. Let's do it. It's time to go.' " Watching sophomore Josh Adams flourish as a rookie in his absence was a powerful motivator for Folston. After a freshman season in which he ran for 470 yards on 88 carries, Folston followed it up with a 2014 campaign in which he totaled a team-high 889 yards rushing on 175 totes to go with six touchdowns. His ascendance up the Notre Dame record books and well-rounded game put the NFL on his radar, but a torn ACL in the 2015 season opener against Texas forced the 5-9½, 214-pounder to watch from the sidelines. Folston claims those thoughts — such as running behind Notre Dame's 2015 offensive line that paved the way for 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Prosise — are well behind him entering his fourth season in South Bend. Folston is a se- nior academically, but could have an- other year of eligibility if he desires. "I would say a lot of people in my situation would think [of the NFL], but that's behind me," Folston said. "I'm ready to get this season kicked off and ready to get this rocking and rolling." Adams, who set the Notre Dame freshman running back record with 835 rushing yards to go with six touch- downs, joins Folston in a crowded backfield that also includes sopho- more Dexter Williams and freshman Tony Jones Jr., both of whom drew praise from head coach Brian Kelly during the first few weeks of practice in August. Folston, a former four-star prospect according to Rivals, made it clear he's hungry for a huge return in 2016. Kelly said the tailback has added "a little" weight entering the season, noting that Folston felt he was "too light" in 2015. "He's that elusive, smooth inside-out runner, and he's certainly going to be an effective player for us," Kelly said. Folston's return gives the Irish a weapon they did not have a season ago. While he lacks breakaway speed, his elusiveness makes him effective. He's able to combine patience with de- cisiveness and possesses solid agility in the inside and outside zone reads. Those traits allowed him to average 5.1 yards per attempt in 2014 despite his longest carry being just 26 yards. Overcoming the mental hurdle of the ACL injury has come with time, Folston said. He credited his family, as well as Notre Dame head football ath- letic trainer Rob Hunt, for that aspect of his comeback. "[Hunt] always just talked to me saying, 'You're going to come back greater,' so I bought into it and talked with my family a lot, they kept my head in it," Folston said. "That's basi- cally it: You have to talk to the people that are close to you so they can keep your head in it." Although he's no longer the unques- tioned No. 1 running back, Folston said he's still going to try to lead the younger backs. His presence was made more important during the opening week of camp, when Adams (ham- string) and Williams (unknown) were both limited by injuries. An Aug. 20 arrest of Williams made Folston's pres- ence even more crucial. "I'm going to definitely try and be that leader in our room, and try to bring our group up and help the team out in as many ways as possible," Folston said. Bringing extra pep is also a priority. "I'm not saying I never went hard, but it just makes you go harder," Folston said of his return. "When you're out here doing things that you love and it's fun to you, you're going to always go hard. "I feel like I'm trying to bring some energy to people that may not have energy. That's just how it is." ✦ Folston, who missed virtually all of the 2015 sea- son after suffering a torn ACL in the first game, rushed for 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two years at Notre Dame. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA READY TO HAVE SOME FUN Tarean Folston is elated to be back and eager to contribute during his senior campaign "I ENJOY PRACTICES NOW, I CAN SAY THAT. I'M NOT GOING TO SAY I HATED PRACTICES [BEFORE THE INJURY], BUT EVERYBODY GOES THROUGH THAT MINDSET. LIKE, 'DANG, I'M AT PRACTICE.' [NOW] I'M LIKE, 'YES, LET'S GO. LET'S DO IT. IT'S TIME TO GO.'" FOLSTON BY MATT JONES T arean Folston might be the old man in the Notre Dame running backs room, but the 21-year-old native of Cocoa, Fla., wasn't complaining about a sweltering practice at Culver Academies. To him, he's just glad to be healthy and playing. "I enjoy practices now, I can say that," Folston said after Notre Dame's opening preseason workout. "I'm not going to say I hated practices [before the injury], but everybody goes through that mindset. Like, 'Dang, I'm at practice.'

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