Notre Dame keeps finding its ‘next man up’ at running back

Josh Adams had a big day for Notre Dame against Pitt.
Charles LeClaire/Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Notre Dame football’s depth has been challenged at several positions this year, but probably none more than running back. 

After the projected back-up transferred and the starter was lost for the year to injury, C.J. Prosise stepped in to average 6.6 yards per carry and more than 100 yards per game. 

And what happened when Prosise was knocked out of the win over Pitt last weekend with upper-body injuries? 

Coach Brian Kelly replaced him with a player, Josh Adams, who is averaging 7.6 yards per carry. 

With 147 yards rushing against the Panthers, Adams certainly came through when needed, although his ability to do so might have been less of a surprise than that of Prosise. 

Kelly acknowledged Adams, a four-star freshman, has some advantages as far as running-back instincts compared to Prosise, a junior who was a receiver last season. 

"I think there is a comfort level there," Kelly said when asked about how Adams runs inside compared to Prosise. "Josh has (muscle memory) in a sense that he does it all the time especially as it relates to contact and how he runs through contact. 

"C.J.’s working through that more. C.J. wants to make you miss, where Josh just expects there are two guys on my legs and I’m running through this, so I think it’s just a natural development of a running back where Josh just expects to run through a tackler or two, and C.J.’s still feeling his way through that." 

With Prosise questionable this week as he deals with a concussion, Adams might find himself the lead back as Notre Dame takes on Wake Forest. 

And that would make classmate Dexter Williams the next "next man up," if he’s needed.

"We love the way he runs the ball," Kelly said of the four-star recruit from Winter Garden, Fla. "There is no question about his physical ability. He’s got to learn more about some of the intricate parts of the game and just keep learning and practice. Practice at the same level each and every day. I think if he does that, he’ll have a good week and play more." 

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