Every college football team needs multiple running backs to be ready to carry the football. Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick provide a great example. Will a Florida duo be Notre Dame’s next one-two punch at running back?
After watching Tarean Folston live and meeting with him this past August, I knew he would be a very good college football player. Instinctive, quick as a cat, a leader, phenomenal hands (one hand grabs), and the ability to play multiple positions at the college level. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, Notre Dame appears to be the leader for Folston, if one believes the scuttlebutt surrounding his recruitment, but he’s not much for interviews. Here’s what every Irish fan needs to know about Folston’s running style, followed by an overview of Greg Bryant, the recent Irish commitment.
Best Asset: Setting up his blocks. Cocoa High School Football did not become a state power without a strong foundation based on excellent coaching. They run the Wing-T and do so with incredible consistency. Folston utilized his blocks well and waits for his linemen, tight ends wide receivers, and wing backs to cut a path for him. He’s capable of making his own path as well.
A Close Second: Folston will make a defender miss in close space. It’s almost comical to watch a defender fall to the ground while grasping at air. He did it during the practice I watched, and he’s done it his entire high school career. Folston’s stop and start ability proved to be very good.
Speed: He will beat most defenders down the sideline. He’s not George Atkinson III-fast, but he’s capable of scoring on 50 yard runs. Folston hits top gear quickly, adding to his value as a runner.
Note: Folston possesses ridiculous hands. He’s going to be a receiving threat at the college level. He just did not receive the opportunity to show them off all that often in a Wing-T offense.
What To Watch For: Folston’s frame currently holds just under 200-pounds. Will he be able to pack on ten or fifteen more pounds without losing speed? If so, he could be an every-down running back that also produces the big play (a combination of Riddick and Wood?). I expect big things from Folston at the college level. He’s such a tremendous leader and focused young man that he will make an impact wherever he plays college football.
Notre Dame secured the commitment of fellow Floridian Greg Bryant this past weekend. Playing in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Bryant faced talented players each week. Bryant provides a different running style than Folston, however, and he would be the perfect complement to Folston.
For now, Folston should be considered primarily an outside runner because Cocoa ran the football to the perimeter most of the time. We will all know about Folston’s inside running ability after he reaches the college level (and hopefully that institution will be Notre Dame). Even if he proves to be a better outside runner, Bryant will provide the inside power.
Best Asset: Bryant rarely goes down upon first contact. For his size (I’d say about 205-pounds, give or take 5 pounds), Bryant is a bull. He relishes contact. Playing in a power offense with a fullback lead, Bryant smashed almost as many defenders as his fullback did leading the way. Bryant powers his way through traffic for each additional yard. Bryant would have been a great tailback in former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz’s offense.
Quick Cuts: Few power backs provide the cutting ability that Bryant does. It’s rare. Perhaps Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Southern California all offered Bryant based on his great combination of size and ability to make defenders miss. With a great running style highlighted by a low forward lean, Bryant showed a great ability to pinball his way through tight spaces while enduring contact. Impressive, indeed.
Good Speed: Much like Folston, Bryant should not be considered a burner. He will out run most defenders, however, and he’s capable of scoring from 50 yards. His frame should allow him to weight 215 to 220 pounds, if he wants the bulk.
What To Watch For: Bryant should contribute next fall, and early. One cannot deny his physical attributes. Will he pick up the scheme, especially the checks so that he understands pass protection? That question applies to every freshman running back. If the answer proves to be yes for Bryant, he could be a featured running back for the Irish by mid-season, and I’m not kidding. Great talent.
Of course it would be fantastic if Bryant shared some of those duties with another Florida talent, providing a true one-two punch.