Notebook: Notre Dame RB Josh Adams cherishes injury adversity
The word “enjoy” doesn’t land in the same sentence as a torn ACL all that often.
And yet, Notre Dame freshman running back Josh Adams, who suffered the debilitating injury in his junior season at Central Bucks South (Pa.) High School, doesn’t hesitate to buck the trend.
“It was rough,” the 6-foot-2, 212-pound freshman said. “It was at a point where I was getting a lot of offers from a lot of schools. A lot of schools were coming in. After it happened, I knew a lot of schools would back off. It was a rough time, especially in the middle of your recruitment.
“But I definitely tried to stay positive about it, just knowing that it happened for a reason and it would make my choice easier, which it did. I definitely enjoyed going through something like that. I don’t regret anything that happened.”
Sitting forward at his table inside the Camelback Resort auditorium, with his blue Notre Dame bowl jersey pulled snug, the unexpected star unleashed a sheepish grin. The flabbergasted media member standing before him, on the other hand, was quick to clarify.
You … enjoyed it?
“Yeah,” Adams affirmed. “The rehab process definitely helped me learn a lot about myself — how much I was willing to take, how much I was willing to go through to get where I wanted to be. It definitely made me realize who I was as a person.”
After rushing for 757 yards, 7.3 yards per carry and five touchdowns in the regular season, Adams will try to enjoy Friday’s BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl even more.
#NotreDame RB Josh Adams seemed pretty at ease in his first bowl media day. pic.twitter.com/s4wcup2yHf
— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) December 30, 2015
Barrett changes approach
Looking back on it, sophomore Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett can confirm that the highly-publicized quarterback competition with Cardale Jones that bled into the 2015 regular season did, in fact, negatively affect his play.
Most egregiously, it warped him into a player he didn’t recognize.
“I think I did focus on that (quarterback competition) at the beginning of the year,” Barrett said. “That was one of the deals … trying to be perfect, or trying to make a crazy play and force things instead of just being myself.
“I felt like maybe that was going to separate me. ‘Who makes the bigger plays?’ instead of, ‘Who runs the offense well?’ That was my thought at the beginning of the year. I was coming off the injury (fractured ankle), too, so it was like, ‘I have to do something to get me back. I have to put some spice in my life.’”
#OhioState QB JT Barrett said he was trying too hard to make highlight plays early in the season. pic.twitter.com/tE2z62lJ4K
— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) December 29, 2015
The results were surprisingly pedestrian. In the first four games of the 2015 season, Barrett completed just 55.3 percent of his passes, throwing for one touchdown and one interception in limited work.
After watching Ohio State’s Oct. 3 victory over Indiana from the bench, Barrett reached a tipping point.
“It got to the point where I was like, ‘You know, I’m not playing very good, just being honest with myself. Cardale is playing pretty good,’” he recalled. “It was like, ‘How about you start playing well, for yourself?’ I would get mad at myself, going home mad, watching film. It was one of those deals where it was more for myself, knowing that I could play better, and just trying to help the team at that point. It was like, ‘Man, I’m beating myself up over this.’”
In the seven games that followed, the 6-2, 225-pound Barrett threw for eight touchdowns with just one interception, while running for 11 more scores.
He was having fun, and it showed.
“I’m at a better place,” Barrett said, enclosed by a fleet of reporters. “I feel like last year, this is what’s crazy about it, when we won I was relieved. That make sense? It was like I had built up this stress or something, and then when we won it was like I could exhale.
“This year, I actually enjoyed the win. Next year, just being relaxed, having fun, it’s going to be a good time for us as a program. My dad used to tell me all the time, ‘How about you have fun?’ I think this year I actually started to enjoy winning and having fun.”
So, considering his experience in quarterback competitions, what advice does Barrett have for Notre Dame quarterbacks DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire and Brandon Wimbush next spring?
“The main thing is, at the end of the day, be yourself,” he said. “If you can be your best self that you can be, that’s all you can do. Then understand that you just control what you can control. With doing that, you put yourself in the best position that you can be in, then let the coaches do their job and evaluate.”
JT Barrett's advice for Kizer, Zaire, Wimbush about being in a QB competition. pic.twitter.com/NnqoILvrqx
— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) December 29, 2015
Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Kizer is one of 20 players from the state of Ohio on the Irish roster, 10 of which were also offered by in-state goliath Ohio State.
And if Kizer has his way, that number will continue to grow.
“When it comes to Ohio athletes, I’m one of the biggest recruiters you could possibly have for Notre Dame,” said the Toledo native, who passed for 2,600 yards and was responsible for 28 touchdowns in the regular season. “I’m trying to pull guys along all the time. So many guys in Ohio get kind of hypnotized by either Ohio State or one of the local bigger schools, Michigan or Michigan State. They’re supposedly the pinnacle of what you can do in that area.
“I try to swing that back toward Notre Dame. This game is a good opportunity for us to come out with a victory, to prove to some of the local athletes that Notre Dame is another option for them.”