Hoskins Ready For Action

Freshman running back Justin Hoskins was recruited as a running back/athlete by Notre Dame. The former Michigan Gatorade Player of the year has been slowed by injuries and has seen limited action so far this season, but has shown glimpses of his potential in limited action. Irish Eyes talked with Hoskins after practice this week to get his thoughts on his freshman season so far.

The Irish, coming off a loss to Purdue, have now turned their practice and full attention to the upcoming game with Stanford [3-1] this Saturday.

Running back Justin Hoskins says he's just getting back into the swing of things after a slow week last week.

"Practice was a little rough for me Tuesday because last week I was hurt and basically today I had to regroup because I didn't get any reps last week," Hoskins said.

"The injury was to the back of my knee as one of the D-linemen stepped on it, and it was pretty swollen. It's a little sore but it's fine and I'm ready to go."

The Michigan native faced challenges when he arrived at Notre Dame, and learning the plays was probably the tallest hurdle for Hoskins.

"At first in camp, it was basically learning the playbook and getting familiar with everything," he said. "When I first saw the playbook I said, wow!

"The coaches sent me the spring game film and everything and tried to give me a head start on it. Me and my Dad broke it down and figured out how they did the formations and everything.

"Then when I got here, I learned the plays but when they switch formation, your responsibilities change and that's what really threw me off at first. But now it is really just trying to stay focused and trying to do the best I can when I'm out there."

The talented running back is also a good receiver and was asked if the coaches had talked with him about becoming a wide out.

"There has been a little bit of talk about that for running particular plays in certain situations," he stated.

"Coming in I really didn't know what I was going to play. They recruited me as an athlete so I really thought I was going to play wide-out when I came here, but when I stayed with running back I thought, 'okay,' but I really wouldn't mind playing wide-out at all."

Although the versatile freshman is willing to become a pass-catcher, running backs coach, Buzz Preston, told us, "We plan to keep working him as a running back and see where it all goes," said Preston. "We think he has a bright future at running back and the more he develops, there are things you can do as a running back; you don't have to be a wide receiver to catch the ball. We're just going to keep developing him and hopefully get what we thought when we recruited him."

As a senior at Creston High School, Hoskins ran for 1,621 yards and 19 touchdowns. As a rookie for the Irish he has run the ball four times for 16 yards. Despite these numbers he is not discouraged and continues to work hard to get on the field.

"Right now we're doing a lot of exchange team and I don't get a lot of reps with the starting offense," Hoskins said. "So basically when I'm watching, I'm trying to get mental reps. But if I got more reps and touching the ball and staying with the first offense, I think I'd get familiar with the offense a lot better and get to play more."

Preston likes the efforts of his freshman and said he should be a threat in the kicking game this year if nothing esle.

"He's doing fine," Preston said of Hoskins. "He works hard and he is coming along. Last week he got banged up a little bit in practice so he didn't have the opportunity to practice a lot; so we didn't play him."

"We'll just see how it goes, how he develops, and how things unfold and take it from there. He will still definitely be a part of kickoff returns and possibly other special teams also. So we are gradually bringing him along and the more we give him, the more he gets comfortable out there, the more we can involve him with everything."

The former Michigan all-star credits his teammates for helping him make the adjustment from high school ball to Irish football.

"The fullback, Smitty, and basically all the running backs, especially Ryan Grant, helped me out a lot." he said. "Also Darius Walker; we sat down together and went over plays.

"My locker is next to Smitty's and he has helped me out a lot throughout the whole season, especially when I have questions. I'm by the linemen too, so I'm real close to them. I'd just say the running backs and linemen have been real helpful."

Football is not the only part of Notre Dame that athletes have to adjust to, and we asked Hoskins how he's adjusting to the academic life at Notre Dame.

"School's going pretty well," Hoskins said. "At first I was confused with anthropology--I didn't know what was going on--but we just took an in-class mid-term today, and I think I did really well on it. I did a lot of studying last night. Other than that, school is going pretty well."

Irish Eyes likes Justin Hoskin's determination and work habits, and we see a bright future for this confident and talented player.

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