Tarean Folston was supposed to be the foundation that supported a very inexperienced backfield. Seven plays into the 2015 season, it was on to Plan B.
Folston, the team’s leading rusher in 2014, tore the ACL in his right knee on his third carry from scrimmage. C.J. Prosise, newly converted to the backfield, entered the game having amassed just 10 career carries.
Prosise turned out to be the first welcome surprise, shouldering most of the load left behind. Freshman Josh Adams turned out to be the second one, when Prosise was felled by injuries late in the year.
Now, in 2016, Prosise is gone – leaving a year early to chase his NFL dream – and Folston is back, but still recovering. Instead of there being an elder statesman and “everyone else,” Folston and Adams are competing for first team reps.
Coach Brian Kelly said Folston, Adams and sophomore Dexter Williams all have an important role to play in the upcoming season.
“What we’re trying to do is really get Folston back into as much of a competitive environment relative to 11-on-11 team work,” said Kelly during his April 1 news conference. “He’s got some strengths. He runs the inside zone play very well. When we get into some of our spread offensive sets, he’s very, very good at keeping the ball inside the tackles and getting some box looks that are very favorable. He runs the ball extremely well inside where Josh runs the outside zone extremely well. Dexter has the speed that we’re looking for. It’s really all three of those guys and balancing their work over the past couple days.”
And although Folston isn’t back to 100 percent yet, Kelly has seen great improvement in the tailback – due, in part, to Adams’ emergence.
“He’s making great progress in the weight room and the realization that this game is one where you are being challenged now by some younger players has really been good for him. I think the competition has brought out the best in him,” the coach said.
Justin Brent, a five-star recruit, has been bouncing between wide receiver and running back. He has been splitting second team reps with Williams. Josh Anderson is a walk-on who received a scholarship last year. He played in the waning minutes of the season opening blowout of Texas and then wasn’t seen again. Tony Jones and Deon McIntosh will join the team after graduating from high school this spring.