Notre Dame RB Josh Adams declares for 2018 NFL Draft

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

"33 Trucking" just left town.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown made an identical decision, junior running back Josh Adams announced his intention to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.

"I'd like to thank the University, my family, teammates, coaches, support staff and everyone who has been with me throughout my journey at Notre Dame," Adams wrote in an Instagram post. "I'm beyond blessed to have been surrounded by such a loving community.

"I chose Notre Dame because it was a place that allowed me to pursue my full potential, and it was a decision that would affect the rest of my life."

In three prolific seasons in South Bend, Adams — a 6-foot-2, 225-pound running back — rushed for 3,198 yards, 6.6 yards per carry and 20 touchdowns. His climax came in 2017, when the Irish captain amassed career-highs in rushing yards (1,430) and rushing touchdowns (9), while also averaging 6.9 yards per carry.

Moreover, Adams' 1,430 rushing yards in 2017 finished just seven yards shy of the single-season program rushing record set in 1979 by Vagas Ferguson, who needed 95 more carries to reach that mark.

A Warrington, Pa., native, Adams holds the Notre Dame record for freshman rushing, with 835 yards in 2015. He finished fifth overall in career rushing yards and third in career yards per carry (6.6), behind only Reggie Brooks (7.6) and Don Miller (6.8).

Adams' 98-yard rushing touchdown against former Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko's Wake Forest Demon Deacons in 2015 is the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium history.

Despite suffering a torn ACL in his junior season at Central Bucks South High School in 2013, and then sustaining a series of nagging injuries throughout his three seasons in South Bend, Adams played in all 38 possible games during his illustrious Irish career. 

Adams is the 16th true junior at Notre Dame to declare for the NFL Draft, which began accepting junior declarations in 1989, and the eighth in the last five draft cycles. Only three of Notre Dame's true juniors have been drafted in the first round: cornerback Tom Carter, running back Jerome Bettis and wide receiver Will Fuller.

Without its established anchor, Notre Dame is expected to have five running backs on scholarship in 2018: senior Dexter Williams, juniors Tony Jones Jr. and Deon McIntosh, sophomore C.J. Holmes and freshman Jahmir Smith.

Of those backs, Williams leads the way statistically, with 641 career rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. In 10 games this season, the 5-11, 215-pound running back from Orlando, Fla., rushed for 360 yards and four touchdowns, averaging a whopping 9.2 yards per carry.

A couple more Florida natives are expected to compete with Williams for carries in 2018. Jones — a 5-11, 225-pound sophomore — rushed for 232 yards, 5.3 yards per carry and three touchdowns in his first dose of action for the Irish, despite sustaining a nagging ankle injury.

McIntosh — a 5-foot-11, 193-pound sophomore — turned in 368 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry and five scores in a surprising 2017 season that ended abruptly with the Pompano, Fla., native being suspended for last Monday's Citrus Bowl victory over LSU.

Holmes, who rushed eight times for 32 yards in his freshman season, has also been indefinitely suspended for allegedly shoplifting last month. 

Without Adams, Notre Dame's five remaining running backs will be asked to carry the load in 2018.

Still, "33 Trucking" has vowed to return ... eventually.

"I'll always have Notre Dame in my heart," Adams wrote. "With my decision, I hope that people will know, and kids will see how it's okay to chase your dreams, because with God 'ALL things are possible.' Also, it is NEVER too late to finish what you start, and that is why I will ALWAYS be connected with this great University. In addition, I'll definitely be back to earn and receive my degree at Notre Dame.

"Again, I'd like to thank the incredible fans for their energy and support, and I'd also like to thank my teammates for the unbelievable journey. The bonds and friendships that were built are unforgettable and will last forever."

A post shared by Josh Adams (@docteradams_from_uptown) on Jan 5, 2018 at 9:35am PST

Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (33) breaks away on a 77-yard touchdown run during the Notre Dame-NC State NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN