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Notre Dame Football

Scouting The Roster: Josh Adams

May 18, 2017
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Player name:  Josh Adams

Player position:  Running back

Years left of eligibility:  2 years

Projected rank on depth chart:  Most likely the starter, at least to start the season.   

Player productivity so far:  2016 (9 starts):  158 rushes, 933 yards (77.8 yards per game), 5.9 ypc, 5TDs.  21 rec. 193 yards (9.2 ypc) 1 TD.  

2015 (3 starts):  117 rushes, 835 yards (64.2 yards per game) 7.1 ypc, 6 TDs.  7 rec, 42 yards (6 ypc),  1TD.  

What player does best:   The Pennsylvania native seems to recognize holes pretty well, and he has enough burst to get through them quickly.  He runs with great balance and arm tackles rarely bring him down.  He also is a fine receiver out of the backfield, and I’d expect we’d see him used more in this regard this season.  He’s also an outstanding pass protector when left in the backfield.  The junior running back also is very sure-handed and very rarely coughs up the football.  He’s more of a one-cut-and-go type of back.  When he gets a head of steam, he can move the pile forward, and he has very good long speed, where if he has enough track, he can pull away from the competition.

What player needs to work on:  Adams had just 43 yards on 11 carries against Texas.  Only 29 yards on 12 carries against MSU, and only 25 yards on 8 carries against Stanford.  He did close the season strong with 94 yards on 12 carries against Miami, 100 yards on 13 carries against Va. Tech, and broke out for a great game against USC amassing 180 yards on 17 carries.  

Adams isn’t especially great at any one thing.  He’s not the fastest back or as fast/quick as say CJ Prosise.  He’s not the most elusive, and isn’t a “cut on a dime” type of back.  For his size, he hasn’t been overly powerful.   At times Adams has shown good power, but he didn’t so much last year until the last two games of the season.  He was also injured most of the year, and my guess is his injury played a large factor in his overall effectiveness last season.

It’s hard to say what he needs to work on the most at this point because I’m not sure we saw a truly healthy Adams at all last year.  In the spring, he looked good in the action we saw, but he also looked to have a lot of players pushing him for playing time.  Adams has had a hard time “staying low” and delivering a blow instead of absorbing one, and one of the reasons he’s not seen as an overly powerful back despite his outstanding size.  
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He has been working hard on this area of his game, and it will be interesting to see the results this fall.  His short area quickness is negative, but again, I’m told he’s working on that as well.  He’s a guy who needs 3-4 strides to get up to full speed, and that can cause him to get dragged down as he’s entering the second level.  Currently, he’s a very solid, productive and very dependable college running back.  Will he end up being an elite player?  We should know that this fall as he’s been working on the things I mentioned above that are keeping him from being one.  

Productivity of former Irish players and the top players in the country at player’s position:  I think it’s important to compare these players to the right people.  Since Adams will definitely be sharing carries with at least one running back, it’s not fair to compare him to someone who received most of his team’s carries.  I felt a good comparison would be comparing him to Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine at Oklahoma.  He will likely find himself in a role similar to those two players last year at OU, and OU and ND run a similar style of offense.  

2015 CJ Prosise (ND) 156 rushes, 1032 yards (93.8 yards per game, 6.6 ypc) and 11 TDs.  26 rec. 308 yards (11.1 ypc) 1 TD

2012 Theo Riddick (ND) 190 rushes, 917 yards (70.5 yards per game, 4.8 ypc)  and 5 TDs,  36 rec, 370 yards (10.3 ypc) and 2 TDs.  

2016 Joe Mixon (OU) 187 rushes for 1274 yards (106 yards per game & 6.8 ypc) and 10 TDs.  37 rec, 538 yards (14.54 ypc) 5 TDs

2016 Samaje Perine (OU) 196 rushes for 1060 yards (106 yards per game 5.41 ypc) and 12 TDs.  15 rec, 107 yards (7.13 ypc) 1 TD

What can we hope for?  Ideally, you’d love to see Adams take that next step in playing with power, better vision and recognition, and show some improvement in his short-area quickness and burst.  He can probably make considerable advancements in the first two.  I’m not sure how much more explosive he will get, but with a new S&C program, my guess is they can help him in that regard as well.  Adams needs to take that next step to show he’s an elite back who demands carries.  He will have considerable competition from two other players who excel in areas of weakness for Adams, so that’s a good thing for ND.  How many carries Adams gets will likely depend on his productivity in the first few games of the season.  He needs to become more effective in the big games, and if he does, he’ll likely keep his starting job as he’s a great receiver and outstanding in pass protection as well.  

What is a realistic expectation?  I believe Notre Dame will run the ball quite a bit this season, so I think overall carries will be up for the backs, but I’m not sure which back is going to get the most carries and become the most “featured” back.  I’d expect one to lead the pack, another a close second in both carries and yards, and the third getting quite a bit less in carries.  

I do think Adams will be one of the top two lead backs because he’s talented enough to be one of the top two, he has an outstanding work ethic, and he’s the best at the little things out of all of them.  

I see a 160-carry, 1,000-yard season for Adams.  I think we see 12-13TDs on the ground, but where I hope to see even more production is as a receiver.  I think Adams can be a 30-reception, 500-yard type of receiver, with 5-6 TDs.  If they throw him the ball, he will almost always be open and catch it.  His versatility as a receiver will make him an even more effective runner, so I’m hoping to see him make a big jump in numbers here.  

What about the future?  With Adams, I’m not sure he’s a first or second round talent at running back.  He could be if he makes considerable progress in those areas of weakness I pointed out, but I think we’d need to see much more proof of that.  He should test OK.  I’d guess he’s a 4.55 guy, but he has great size.  If he can show he can run with power and forward lean, he will be much more coveted by the NFL as he had the body to take the pounding in the NFL.  

I actually think he’ll be back for his final season unless he really breaks out like CJ Prosise did with much more explosive runs and showing great feet and power inside the tackles.  However, a lot of backs don’t like to spend their hits in the college game where they’re not getting paid, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him leave for the NFL after this season.  He will have had three full seasons carrying the football in college, and that’s a lot of abuse on the body.  

Regardless of his decision, ND should be in great shape with Dexter Williams and Tony Jones, Jr. coming back next season.  

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