Waking Up Echoes: Irish Eyes Smile on CB South’s Adams
Originally published in the April 14th, 2016 Bucks County Herald
Any witness to a CB South football game from 2012 to 2014 left in awe of Josh Adams’ talent. Blessed with fullback size and tailback speed, Adams rushed for nearly 2,100 yards as a sophomore and was USA Today’s Pennsylvania Player of the Year as a senior.
Yet even the most ardent Adams fan had to be surprised at just how quickly the Titan star not just adapted, but thrived on one of college football’s biggest stages.
In the first carry of his Notre Dame career in their September 5th opener, true freshman Adams bolted right on a sweep, cut and punched in a 14-yard touchdown against Texas. Adams added a 25-yard touchdown run two quarters later as the Fighting Irish blasted the Longhorns 38-3.
“The Texas game was amazing. I didn’t really imagine myself playing in that game but it felt like I was playing when I ran out on the field before the game started,” Adams recalled. “Getting ready to play down there is a totally different feeling. Not everybody gets to run out on the field at Notre Dame and play in front of the fans and your family. It was definitely special and I felt blessed.”
The two-touchdown game, against college football’s third all-time winningest program, started a superb year for Adams. He earned meaningful playing time in all 13 Notre Dame games, rushing for 133 yards and a score against Massachusetts.
“Josh Adams runs with a unique blend of power and explosiveness for a back his size,” Campus Insiders Rich Cirminiello told the Herald. “With the way he stepped up as a rookie for the Irish last year, it’s easy to see why the program is bullish about his future as a feature back.”
When senior C.J. Prosise went down in the first quarter against Pittsburgh on November 7th, Adams was forced into the role of feature back. Adams responded by picking up 147 yards on 20 carries in a 42-30 win. The Fighting Irish improved to 8-1.
“We preached next man in the whole year and that is what we tried to build our team around,” Adams pointed out.
“The one goal we all have is to play at the standard we have at Notre Dame,” Adams continued. “Everybody has to play to that standard and try and achieve more than that. I think the foundation that we had set in the offseason helped to prepare for times when guys went down, not losing our cool and staying focused on the game plan. We’re a family so we go through those things together.”
Notre Dame prepped Adams for filling in, but they were not expecting him to make history. The next week against Wake Forest, Adams raced 98 yards for a touchdown- the longest play in the near mythic history of Notre Dame Stadium and the longest freshman play in NCAA history.
“We ran a normal inside zone,” Adams said. “It was just great blocking from the start of the play. As a unit, we were all locked in to how they’d be coming out. Once I broke out, again, it was great blocking down the field. It was something where all of us made history.”
Adams closed the year starting three of Notre Dame’s final four games- two of which were against top 13 teams- and finishing with 835 yards on just 117 carries. Yet he remains as humble as the bottom guy on the depth chart.
“I definitely have a lot more to improve and that’s the great thing about it,” Adams said. “We can all improve that much more and that’s why we came (here): to be great, and not to settle. We’re excited as a team to build on that and to be better.
“Since coming here, I think I’ve improved all around,” Adams continued. “Playing on top of the ball, pass protection, running better routes, being a better player and not just a better running back.”
As a super duper star with South, Adams had individual highlight games, yet he felt his “whole senior year was really special: finishing the year with the guys I came in with from my freshman year and my being able to return to football and finish strong,” he shared. A knee injury sustained in his junior Titan year created doubt about his future and did not guarantee an excellent senior season.
That doubt seems laughable now, given the outstanding freshman campaign that Adams completed for the 11th ranked team in the country.
“I knew what kind of a place Notre Dame was,” Adams stated. “They offer a chance to be excellent and that was exciting for me, just to know that I could get better at a place like this and to improve- as a student and as a player.”
“He truly understands the offense in and out. He’s been leading us as a true freshman,” praised quarterback DeShone Kizer to the South Bend Tribune.
“I made mistakes and learned from those mistakes,” Adams candidly admits. “I can learn a lot from the guys who are still here, try to build on that and hopefully help guys who look up to me with something like that. It will be great to see what happens.”
The Fighting Irish start their 2016 season at Texas on September 3rd. Like Adams said, it will be great to see what happens.
Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com
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