Doubters energize Notre Dame RB recruit Josh Adams

South Bend Tribune

Some schools lost interest in Josh Adams.

Eighteen months after a sophomore season with 2,089 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, 2015 running back Josh Adams still held only seven offers.

An ACL (knee) injury that wrecked Adams’ junior season could have derailed his recruitment.

While many schools looked elsewhere, several programs, including Notre Dame, continued to recruit him. For the Irish, the attention devoted to Adams resulted in a June visit and eventual verbal commitment.

Adams never forgot which schools stayed by his side.

“Notre Dame was one of them that stuck with me the whole time,” Adams said. “They didn’t give up on me. That was a big factor that they let me recover, improve and get stronger while sticking with me through the process.”

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Adams ended his recruitment on June 30 with a commitment to Notre Dame. The Warrington, Pa., product chose the Irish over Penn State, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Boston College, Rutgers and Temple.

Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who recruits in Pennsylvania, first expressed interest in Adams in 2013 before his junior season. After the two started to build a relationship, Adams was introduced to running backs coach Tony Alford.

“I’ve started to build a very strong relationship with him and get into his world and see how he feels about being a running back and how to get better to prepare me for when I get up there,” Adams said. “Coach Alford and Coach Hiestand are the ones that I have really strong relationships with.”

Now fully healed, Adams hopes to prove himself with a strong return on the investment made by Hiestand and Alford.

“I have a big chip on my shoulder to go out there and play with my team again with the guys that I’m used to playing with,” Adams said. “I want to go out there and win every single game and prove a lot of people wrong. I have a lot of people doubting me because of the injury, but that’s not really big for me. I’m not really focused on that. I’m focused on playing, getting better and trying to improve for next year.”

Skepticism will follow Adams until he proves to be the running back he once was. While some recruiting services still rank Adams highly, others don’t. 247Sports slates Adams as a four-star prospect, the No. 17 running back in the 2015 class and the No. 171 recruit regardless of position. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 18 recruit in Pennsylvania, but doesn’t rank him among the top 20 all-purpose backs or the top 60 running backs for 2015.

The last nine months Adams has been trying to rebuild the future he had been working on heading into his junior season. With an eye on the future, he visited South Bend for the Irish Invasion camp weekend in June. His coaches and teammates at Central Bucks South spoke highly of Notre Dame, but Adams wasn’t fully prepared to be swept away by the school.

“When I went down there I had a great experience with my family,” Adams said. “I really enjoyed the atmosphere and meeting the different players and coaches. Compared to the other schools I’ve been to, I felt like it was the one for me. I got that feeling and that’s sort of what I had been waiting for — to get the feeling that I belonged somewhere. I got that as soon as I left. I felt like it was the place for me to try to build my future.”

Adams last played in a football game on Oct. 4, six games into his junior season, when he tore his ACL. Surgery followed and led to a long road back to full health. Adams said he was cleared to resume full workouts earlier this summer.

“I’ve been working ever since to try to get faster and stronger,” he said. “I feel good. I feel mentally strong and physically strong. I just can’t wait to get back out there and go compete for my senior year. I’m just excited.”

Adams won’t admit to setting any sort of numerical goals for his final high school season. He already put up plenty of numbers as a sophomore, and still recorded 738 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns before his injury as a junior.

“Going into my last year, I just want to leave a mark and give the school something to remember,” Adams said. “I just want to go out and play football. That’s a big key for me. I just want to go out there and have fun in my last year and leave something behind.”

Practices will start in August as the team works toward its season opener. Adams will have a chance to participate in two scrimmages before Central Bucks South plays its first regular season game on Aug. 29, the same weekend Notre Dame opens its season against Rice.

“It’s been a while,” Adams said. “I’m going to have jitters the first game, but that’s going to go away once I touch the ball. I can’t wait to get out there and see how I’ve improved. Playing with my teammates is big for me. I miss playing with those guys.” | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame running back commit Josh Adams is ready to prove his health as his senior season starts next month (Photo courtesy of Doylestown (Pa.) The Intelligencer/Carl Kosola).