The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a stable of running backs that very few teams could match, and potentially the best of the bunch has yet to see serious playing time. In Brian Kelly’s best recruiting class thus far in South Bend he was able to pick up two blue-chip running backs in Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant.
Bryant was the second ranked running back in the nation according to ESPN, and is one of the highest rated running backs to ever sign with the Golden Domers. He, though, has only three touches this season.
Folston was the sixth ranked running back, but yet the second best running back recruit brought in by the Irish. After Saturday’s win over the Michigan State Spartans, Folston is No. 1 in what matters the most right now, carries.
While it was only a modest four carries, and only totaled 12 yards, Folston ran hard and smart, finding a cutback lane to gain an extra few yards and showing his willingness to lower his shoulder and power into the pile to fight his way for yards.
He finished with the third most carries, one more than Amir Carlisle, who led the team in carries going into the game. Greg Bryant did not see any touches but was in the game participation report in the end game box score.
Bryant and Folston have enough talent to be running with the top three of Carlisle, George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel, but close games have forced Kelly to go with his experienced players, leaving Bryant and Folston on the bench for most of the season until yesterday.
With every game a big game for Notre Dame, it has been hard to find time to evaluate the freshman. The next few weeks don’t show that many more opportunities, so it might come to Kelly putting faith in the players he brought into the program, like he did with Folston.
The Irish play another stout defense in the Oklahoma Sooners next week. While it would seem like the chances of seeing Bryant and Folston would be slim, you could have said the same about this week.
The Irish have struggled to establish a consistent running game, and has seen their rushing yards per game drop all the way from 188 against the Temple Owls all the way to 78 against the Spartans (96 against the Michigan Wolverines and 91 against the Purdue Boilermakers in between), so maybe a change is needed in the pecking order and some fresh legs, with no game film to study on could be an advantage heading into their matchup against the Sooners.
Unless you’re the Alabama Crimson Tide, grabbing two running backs of this caliber is a rare thing, so the Irish seem to have a bright future when it comes to the running game, a future that could be now if they were given the opportunities.