SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 14:  Josh Adams #33 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes for a 98-yard touchdown against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on November 14, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Irish A-to-Z: Josh Adams

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Nobody predicted Josh Adams to have a record-breaking debut season in South Bend. But after the two-deep depth chart was plundered before halftime of the season opener, the Pennsylvania native stepped in and turned in one of the most surprising performance of 2015.

Now for an encore. With Tarean Folston back and C.J. Prosise gone, Adams has a similar opportunity in front of him. He also has a year of football under his belt. With his blend of size, speed and power, Adams could serve as the unheralded leading man of a young and talented Irish team intent on surprising people this fall.

Let’s kick off our annual Irish A-to-Z series with a playmaker who could make take a big step forward after a record-setting freshman campaign.

 

JOSH ADAMS
6’1.5″, 219 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 33, RB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Still managed a four-star ranking by 247Sports’s composite, impressive considering he missed his junior season while recovering from an ACL injury. He returned as a 4A All-State running back, with a 1,600-yard bounce back season that ended after 10 games with an ankle sprain.

Adams had offers from Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers and Stanford (though never visited Palo Alto). But he picked Notre Dame in late June, with the Irish showing faith in his recovery from injury and being immediately rewarded for it last fall.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2015): Led Irish running backs with a 7.1 yards-per-carry average, running for a school record 835 yards from scrimmage, breaking Darius Walker’s 2004 record. His 98-yard touchdown run against Wake Forest set a Notre Dame Stadium record. Broke 100 yards against UMass, Wake Forest, Pitt and Stanford. Averaged 5.6 yards per carry against Ohio State, scoring his sixth touchdown of the season.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Who saw what happened last year coming? Not me. But the snaps were there for the young backs and Adams responded.

(Needless to say, Adams isn’t becoming a safety any time soon—especially as the Irish rebuild the running back depth chart with Adams as the potential star.)

There doesn’t seem to be any snaps for a young ball carrier on this roster, unless one of these guys does something mighty special during fall camp. And while the Irish staff feels like they found a special football player in Adams, there’s no hurry to get him on the field.

While Tony Alford was the one who recruited Adams, it’s worth noting that it’ll be Autry Denson who’ll develop him. And Denson’s career at Notre Dame, not to mention his DNA as a player who maxed out his ability, will serve Adams well, especially as the lesser heralded prospect of the two backs in the 2015 recruiting class.

By all reports, Adams fits the bill of an “RKG.” Here’s what his coach Tom Hetrick said after Signing Day.

“This is a special day because Josh is a special kind of kid,” Hetrick said. “He always does the right thing. He’s a great ambassador for our program.”

With the depth chart at running back a veteran group, that mental makeup will pay dividends if it takes a few years to see the field. But with size and speed, Adams could find his way onto the field via special teams, and sure shares the profile of a safety if we’re looking at position switch candidates.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Sky high. Adams has all the ingredients you want to see in a prolific back, including opportunity. While Tarean Folston might return to the starting lineup, Adams’ ability to hit the home run, as well as be powerful on the interior, is too much to ignore.

One quote that’s striking to me still stands out from Brian Kelly’s Signing Day press conference. And it’s more apparent now than ever before.

“He has not played a lot of football,” Kelly said. “With the speed that he possesses, we think he can be whatever he wants to be.  We can’t wait to develop him.”

So far, so good.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Pencil me in for a ho-hum 1,000 yard season and 10 touchdowns. And that’s assuming that Tarean Folston has a nice year and Dexter Williams finds a role in this offense as well.

Of course, Adams has to stay healthy, and if we’ve seen anything these past few years, it’s that one Notre Dame running back is going to get bitten by the injury bug. But with a full calendar year in the strength program, and maturity and confidence that position coach Autry Denson praised this spring, Adams is going to be one of the faces of the offense this season, especially as the Irish look for answers in the passing game to replace Will Fuller, Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle.

Depending on how optimistic you want to be, it’s not inconceivable to think that Adams could find himself in elite company next season. While he won’t likely climb into the Fournette, McCaffery conversation at the top of the heap, he’s got potential that’s not far off that.

Not sure of that? Just go back and look at the numbers and game tape. A freshman season averaging over seven-yards a carry and with speed to take a 98-yarder to the house? Adams could turn in a work horse season and explode statistically—especially if the Irish offense turns to the ground to move the unit.

Incoming freshman CB Troy Pride wins 4 state track titles

Troy Pride
Rivals / Yahoo Sports!
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Troy Pride‘s suitcase just got a little bit heavier. The South Carolina native, who’ll be packing up and heading to South Bend in a few weeks, will be bringing some extra hardware—four gold medals from a perfect state track meet on Saturday.

Pride, a four-star recruit expected to compete immediately in the Irish secondary, is also the fastest high schooler in South Carolina. He won the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes and was also part of the Greer High School’s 4×100 relay team.

Pride ran a 10.55 100-meter dash to win, then a 21.28 in the 200. He legged out a victory in the 400 with a time of 48.28 seconds before teaming up to run the 4×100 in 42.20.

“Throughout the entire year I’ve known that I’ve got to be at a different level at the state meet,” Pride told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “Coming into the state meet, I knew what I had to do. I knew how I had to work. I felt like (I was prepared) for these events.”

With that preparation complete, Pride can turn his attention to a football career that’s waiting. One of just 10 South Carolina-natives to play football for the Irish, Pride follows in the footsteps of Chris Brown, Jeff Buris and Tony Rice.

Pride’s speed makes him a potential contributor in the return game, especially as C.J. Sanders continues to rehab from his hip injury. Pride also plans on continuing his track career at Notre Dame, attempting to be a two-sport athlete for the Irish.

UPDATED: Tyler Luatua won’t transfer from Notre Dame

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Property of the South Bend Tribune
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UPDATE: Notre Dame confirmed that Tyler Luatua will return to the program. Both Luatua and Kelly released statements, as you can read below.

Notre Dame’s tight end depth chart might not be losing a man after all. Rising junior Tyler Luatua is reportedly reconsidering his decision to leave the Irish football program after announcing his intentions to transfer to BYU.

Luatua sat out spring football but stayed in school to finish the semester. But multiple outlets yesterday began to catch wind that the California native was reconsidering the decision, with classmate Andrew Trumbetti throwing gas on the first with this post:

Bringing Luatua back might not be a huge boost to the stat sheet, but he will be a nice cog in the running game as an attached blocker. (Our friends at Blue and Gold went deep on Luatua’s skill-set here.) While Durham Smythe—assuming he’s healthy—should have the bulk to hang tough in the trenches, that job now relies on converted defensive lineman Jacob Matuska, with Alizé Jones taking reps mostly at boundary receiver by the end of spring and Nic Weishar not there yet physically.

Luatua played in 10 games each of the past two seasons. Notre Dame has room in their scholarship count for him still, and doesn’t have an incoming tight end until the class of 2017 when Brock Wright and Cole Kmet are pledged to join the program.

Seven home games at Notre Dame in 2017

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 11:  Members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish run onto the field before a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Notre Dame Stadium on October 11, 2014 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Shamrock Series will take a break as Notre Dame plans on showing off their new digs. After incorporating a 6-5-1 scheduling paradigm with the annual neutral site game, athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed that the series will take a year off before rebooting in 2018.

“In 2017, the first year in which we will compete in the renovated stadium, we thought it was important to maximize the opportunity for our fans to attend a home game,” Swarbrick said in a statement. “We look forward to restoring the Shamrock Series tradition in 2018 and the years beyond.”

With the Campus Crossroads project set to reveal a transformed campus with Notre Dame Stadium now the focal point, the 2017 slate is now official locked in:

Sept. 2, 2017 — TEMPLE
Sept. 9, 2017 — GEORGIA
Sept. 16, 2017 — at Boston College
Sept. 23, 2017 — at Michigan State
Sept. 30, 2017 — MIAMI (Ohio)
Oct. 7, 2017 — at North Carolina
Oct. 14, 2017 — Bye Week
Oct. 21, 2017 — USC
Oct. 28, 2017 — NORTH CAROLINA STATE
Nov. 4, 2017 — WAKE FOREST
Nov. 11, 2017 — at Miami
Nov. 18, 2017 — NAVY
Nov. 25, 2017 — at Stanford

(All home games in CAPS)

Michigan State and Stanford set for primetime at Notre Dame

Te'o Victory Stanford
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Notre Dame will host two night kickoffs in 2016, with Michigan State and Stanford pegged for primetime. Two of the country’s finest teams from last season will visit South Bend and play under the lights in a still-to-be-finished Notre Dame Stadium.

The Irish will kickoff against the Spartans on September 17 at 7:30 p.m. They’ll play at the same time on October 15 against the Cardinal before taking a week off and then welcome visiting Miami. Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series game against Army in the Alamodome will kickoff at 2:30 local time in San Antonio. All three games will be televised on NBC.

The complete Notre Dame schedule for 2016 is as follows. (All home games in CAPS with day time kickoffs set for 3:30 p.m. ET.)

Sept. 4 at Texas
Sept. 10 NEVADA
Sept. 17 MICHIGAN STATE
Sept. 24 DUKE
Oct. 1 vs. Syracuse (at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Oct. 8 at North Carolina State
Oct. 15 STANFORD
Oct. 22 Bye Week
Oct. 29 MIAMI
Nov. 5 vs. Navy (EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 12 ARMY (Alamodome, San Antonio, TX)
Nov. 19 VIRGINIA TECH
Nov. 26 at USC