Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

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

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24 APRIL 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED RUNNING BACKS N otre Dame certainly does not lack talent in the backfield, but there are questions surrounding the posi- tion heading into the spring. The only uncertainty surrounding Josh Ad- ams is whether or not he can stay healthy after play- ing most of the 2016 season banged up. He has averaged 6.5 yards per carry his first two seasons, and late in his sopho- more campaign he showed the ability to do some of the little things that escaped him early in his career. A breakout season on the national scene is possible for Adams. Behind Adams there are ques- tions about how the depth chart will shake out. Williams is an ex- plosive player that is a threat to rip off a big play every time he touches the ball, but the Winter Gardens, Fla., native must do a better job making reads and learn to do more than just run the ball. Tony Jones Jr. impressed his freshman season despite not see- ing game action. He's a natural runner that does his best work between the tackles. He's physical and his one- cut running style should thrive in Notre Dame's zone schemes. If the strong blocking and ball skills he showed in high school translates to his college game, he could at least find a role as a third-down back. Freshman C.J. Holmes is going to make the decision on whether or not to play him this season very difficult. Holmes is the most versatile back on the roster with the ability to make plays on handoffs, and the downfield speed, catching skills and route running ability to do damage on the outside. BY THE NUMBERS 8 Games in his two years with the Irish that Josh Adams has gone over 100 yards in a single game, in- cluding four in 2016. 10.0 Yards per carry accumu- lated by Dexter Williams last season against Syracuse, which included a highlight- reel 59-yard touchdown run. 15 Number worn by early e n ro l l e e f re s h m e n C . J. Holmes, the same number worn by wide receiver Co- rey Holmes last year. 168 Yards gained by Adams in 2015 against Stanford, the Irish single-game freshman rushing record. POSITION BATTLE TO WATCH A fierce competition will likely be had for the role of the backup to Josh Adams. Offensive coordinator Chip Long ideally wants at least two backs that can carry the load, and junior Dexter Williams will compete with sophomore Tony Jones Jr. for that spot. Williams is arguably the most explosive athlete in the backfield, but Jones is a more natural runner that was a strong pass blocker in high school. In order to hold Jones off, Williams will have to become a more consistent — and complete — running back. WHO'S GONE Tarean Folston After a productive first two years with the Irish, a 2015 knee injury de- railed his career. He elected to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. Justin Brent The former top-100 recruit battled a foot injury in 2016 and has decided to transfer from the program. WHO'S BACK Junior Josh Adams He led the Irish with 933 yards on 158 rushing attempts last season and has tallied 1,768 career yards in just two seasons. Junior Dexter Williams Tallied just 200 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore, but he flashed big play potential in limited opportunities. Sophomore Tony Jones Jr. Redshirted in 2016, but the 5-10, 224-pounder is well built and brings a slashing style to the backfield. TOP NEWCOMERS Freshman C.J. Holmes The four-star recruit reminds many of for- mer 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Prosise, and his versatility will make him hard to keep off the field. 2017 SPRING FOOTBALL PREVIEW Returning Returning Year-End Year Starts Rushing Yards/TD Rushing Yards/TD 2016 16 2,294/15 1,471/10 2017 12 1,968/15 — QUOTABLE "Adams has star potential and could even be a long-shot Heisman Trophy candidate, but we need to see how he fits in the new scheme and whether that leads to more TDs." — SPORTING NEWS ON NOTRE DAME JUNIOR RUNNING BACK JOSH ADAMS JOSH ADAMS PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL JOSH ADAMS

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