Folston Fully Vested

A conversation with Notre Dame freshman running back Tarean Folston reveals two essential traits that future Irish rookies would do well to emulate: patience and perspective.

While a panicked subset of Irish fans lamented (daily) why Folston and fellow four-star Floridian freshman Greg Bryant watched from the sidelines for much of the season's first set of games, Folston never wavered in his daily approach -- or in his realistic assessment of his status as a neophyte among a junior-laden backfield.

"Coming in, I had a couple of great running backs in front of me, so it's not about playing right away," said Folston. "Every freshman wants to do that. But you have to come in and prepare yourself for college football. It's a whole different lifestyle. It's a whole different way of going about the game of football. There is a lot of stuff that you have to learn."

Pass protection responsibilities, pre-snap adjustments, first-step technique, consistency in alignment, adjustments to blocking assignments up front, down-and-distance strategies -- all of it is relatively new to most collegiate freshmen.

And then the ball is snapped.

"Learning the plays in camp and actually doing the plays in camp was the hard part," said Folston. "I could write our plays, but when I got in, everything started moving fast, guns started going off, I mean, it was crazy. But I started to pick it up and everything started slowing down.

"I started getting settled in and relaxed, settled in my environment by the first week of the season."

Sporadic playing time followed, the highlight a 36-yard sprint down the left sideline vs. Oklahoma. The scamper set up an Irish touchdowns and was thus the most important run of the freshmen's young career -- but maybe not the most impressive, as Folston has made an early habit of breaking free of the initial hit.

"(Running backs) Coach (Tony) Alford in practice always tells us to finish. We have to run through tackles in practice, we run through tires," Folston noted. "He just tells you to keep your feet moving at all times, and that's what I try to do. The little things. Making a guy miss isn't a little thing, but (if you) keep your feet moving, square up, take good angles…it's part of it."

And it's likely the easy part for most running backs. Running through traffic, running to daylight -- carrying the football comes naturally to an athlete. But for Folston, so too does offensive football's most important act: blocking for a teammate.

"At my high school, you had to block because we ran a Wing-T. I've always been a blocking back, so coming in, blocking was a strength," Folston said. "(The adjustment is) just knowing where you have to be at the right time and being able to pick up the actual blitz. An edge rusher, a D-Lineman. It's not necessarily hard; it's about working on the smaller things and doing the smaller things right."

A Good Fit

Invariably, one of the first questions posed to every Florida prospect that migrates north to South Bend involves his new home's climate. It took 20 seconds for Folston to receive said inquiry, but it's taken more than 14 weeks (and counting) for South Bend to comply -- 70-plus degrees remains the norm as the semester heads into mid-October.

"It's gotten cold a few times; it's kind of *scary," said Folston, unwittingly providing a sinister chuckle for the dozen area residents conducting the interview session. "I know there's a lot colder weather coming along, so I'm just preparing myself, buying all the right gear."

(*Editor's Note to Tarean: Wait 'til February and get back to us.)

While Folston gears up for South Bend's inevitable temperature plunge, he continues to prepare himself daily as both an athlete and a student.

"One thing that I always kept in mind coming out of high school was that stars (ratings) don't really mean anything," Folston said. "It's about how I perform and how I project myself as a person.

"This is a great program. This program, it can take you far in life, football or not football. There are a lot of great people here, a lot of great people that I have yet to meet, and I feel like my journey here is just beginning."

Asked what part academics played in his decision to leave offers from SEC schools including home state Florida and ACC power Florida State on the table, Folston noted, "It played a very large part. It's one of the top schools in the nation and this will set me up for the rest of my life…I think of it that if football doesn't work for me, I still have something to fall back on."

"SEC is just a name, ACC is just a name. I go to school so it can benefit me as a young man growing up and as a football player," he said. "I feel like I made the right choice." Top Stories