Notre Dame added a surprising piece to its 2015 recruiting class Monday afternoon, landing a commitment from Pennsylvania running back Josh Adams, who was heavily favored to land at in-state Penn State.
The Irish had only a six percent chance of landing Adams on the 247Sports Crystal Ball; the Nittany Lions had all of the other 94 percent. But the 6'2", 208-pound power back from Central Bucks South High School is heading to the Midwest instead.
"I called all of Notre Dame's coaches and they were so excited," Adams said, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.com.
And excited they should be: Adams is exactly the type of player Notre Dame was looking to land this recruiting cycle. He is the true power back its current roster lacks and the only running back among its 15 committed players for next season.
That need is likely a big reason Adams chose to play for the Irish instead of the Nittany Lions. Penn State already has two running backs, Andre Robinson and Saquon Barkley, committed in the 2015 class, and both are higher-regarded prospects than Adams.
Mike Farrell of Rivals.com agreed that this played a factor:
Whether he "wanted" to play at Penn State or not, Adams falls into what could be a nice situation in South Bend. Redshirt freshman Greg Bryant, the No. 45 overall player in the 2013 class, is the Irish's feature back of the future, but they could use a power complement such as Adams to spell him and convert short-yardage situations.
Adams is "only" a 3-star recruit and the No. 379 player on the 247Sports Composite. However, a big part of that might have to do with the knee injury that cut short his junior season in 2013.
The 247Sports subjective rankings favor him more keenly than the Composite, ranking him a 4-star recruit, the No. 16 running back and the No. 168 overall player in the class. Per Bleacher Report's Tyler Donahue, he had 2,800 yards and 22 TDs as a sophomore in 2012:
Pennsylvania RB Josh Adams has committed to Notre Dame, per 247Sports. Missed most of junior season with injury. 2,000 yards, 28 TD in 2012.— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) June 30, 2014
ESPN Scouts Inc. (subscription required) is a fan of Adams' versatility, lauding his taller, leaner frame and suggesting he could possibly fit as a slot receiver at the next level as well.
Parsing through the past two recruiting classes, it seems Adams would fill a bigger need at running back than at receiver. The Irish landed a pair of 4-star recruits, Justin Brent and Corey Holmes, at receiver in 2014 and have a pair of talented 3-star recruits, C.J. Sanders and Jalen Guyton, signed up in 2015.
Adams is the only running back it has signed in that span.
Still, there is no way to project with certainty how any of those players will pan out, so Adams' versatility, while unlikely to force a position change, remains a valuable asset at this early stage of recruitment.
If Bryant pans out as well as some Notre Dame fans hope, he could theoretically declare for the NFL draft after the 2015 season, leaving a hole for Adams to emerge as a feature back as a sophomore or redshirt freshman. More likely than not, Bryant will stay at least one more season after that and Adams will fight to be his complement.
Any way you swing it, though, Adams is an important signing for a Notre Dame team that lacked depth in its backfield for the future.
Now it just needs to hold onto his commitment.
Note: Unless otherwise cited, all recruiting info courtesy of the 247Sports Composite.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT