Tarean Folston lingered on the practice field Thursday afternoon, trying to get loose after a Pro Day workout the former Irish running back gave nothing more than a mediocre review.
It’s been that way with Folston for basically the past year-and-a-half since he tore his ACL on the third carry of his junior season against Texas. Folston returned heavier last fall and struggled to recapture his speed, then suffered a high ankle sprain in September.
He was a supporting actor in Notre Dame’s offense from there, finishing with 77 carries for 334 yards and two touchdowns. The longest rush of Folston’s senior season was his first, a 54-yarder in Austin.
“I’m not gonna say I regret my decision to come here,” Folston said. “I’m almost done, graduated. I’ll definitely be appreciative of my degree once I graduate. Everything that transpired and happened is over with. I’m just ready to continue on with my journey and hopefully everything works out for the best.”
Folston didn’t score an invite to the NFL Combine and his numbers at Pro Day underscored why. He posted 40-yard dashes of 4.75 and 4.8, which would have ranked second-to-last among the 28 running backs who tested in Indianapolis. His 6.93 in the three-cone drill and 4.31 in the short-shuttle would have ranked fourth and seventh among running backs.
“It went OK,” Folston said. “It didn’t go exactly as I planned, but it went all right.
“I don’t think days like this can show what a player can do, but (NFL teams) like to see the testing. I couldn’t tell you what they thought about me. If they want to work me out hopefully they do, but as of right now I’m not gonna say I did really good for them because I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Folston described his exit from Notre Dame in similar terms.
The former four-star prospect weighed the value of a graduate transfer elsewhere and returning to Notre Dame but didn’t consult much with the Irish coaching staff before jumping into the draft. Asked if Brian Kelly’s staff advised him to return to Notre Dame or leave, Folston basically said neither.
“You’d have to ask them,” Folston said. “Just thought it was the best opportunity for me, whether it was to stay in school or go somewhere else, but I thought this was the best overall decision.
“If I would have stayed in school and God forbid got hurt, that would have been my last season, regardless of what kind of injury I had. I thought about all that. I thought I made the best decision.”
Folston has spent time training in Fort Wayne at AWP, the same outfit that helped develop Jaylon Smith, Tyler Eifert and Drue Tranquill.
The running back is realistic about his NFL chances, with an undrafted free agent route his likely path into the pros. Recent Irish backs who went that way include Jonas Gray, Cierre Wood and Darius Walker. Gray returned to Notre Dame for Pro Day and caught passes from DeShone Kizer.
“I feel like I can do it all, every special teams,” Folston said. “My whole thing is I just need an opportunity and I need to make the best of that opportunity.”