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December 18, 2013

Folston looks ahead to 14

Tarean Folston has no complaints about his freshman year.

For that, his sophomore season should include more carries.

Last weekend during Notre Dame’s annual awards show, The Echoes, Folston took home Offensive Newcomer of the Year after posting 71 carries for 397 yards and two touchdowns in his debut run. The former four-star recruit developed into a borderline lead back as the season wore on, posting double-digit rushing attempts four times in Notre Dame’s final five games.

“It came along,” Folston said. “I just played my role and pretty much did what the coaches asked me to do. Everything fell in part.”

Folston opened training camp with a calf injury that shelved him before the season could get going. Then he tweaked a hamstring at the exact moment he appeared healthy, the end of his 36-yard run against Oklahoma. Folston missed the next three weeks. After cleanup work against Air Force, he broke out against Navy with 140 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

It was the most rushing yardage by an Irish freshman since Julius Jones against Navy 14 years ago.

“Yeah, it went pretty good,” Folston said. “It went kind of as I expected. I got some playing time this year. Everything went as I expected.”

How Brian Kelly and interim offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock use Folston in the Pinstripe Bowl could be a tip toward next season when Notre Dame’s running back roster is scheduled to return, including a healthy red-shirt freshman Greg Bryant.

Folston said he’s bonded with Bryant off the field after not knowing much about the former five-star prospect in high school, short of his recruiting reputation. The Florida products played against one another in an exhibition game before their senior seasons, both going over 100 yards.

Bryant took a red shirt this season after knee tendonitis slowed him physically and the complexities of Notre Dame’s offense challenged his ability to pick up the system. He’s returned to action during bowl practices.

“We’re still going into this next upcoming season with a strong mind,” Folston said. “We’re real close off the field. We didn’t really know each other at all in our high school years, but when we got here that was that bond and we connected and we’re really close.”

Even if Folston said he’s not used to the Midwest winters yet, the product of Cocoa, Fla., said he’s settled at Notre Dame.

“There’s no place like home-home, but I think I got acquainted this past summer,” Folston said. “I think I got pretty relaxed in my state here. I feel pretty comfortable.”

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