The speculation heading into the 2013 season was a heralded crop of backs would transcend the running game for Notre Dame and freshman Greg Bryant would lead the charge.
Injuries and other underlying issues changed all that, and the Irish not only had a lethal back on hold for 2014- but 2013 propelled the other player into the spotlight in grand fashion.
Tarean Folston not only was called on early, but he performed like a seasoned player and stamped his spot on the roster as a proven commodity and also the player that could very well spark the Irish offense and team overall into the spotlight come season's end.
For Notre Dame to exceed the lowly projected standards placed on them by the likes of Vegas and ESPN The Magazine, (both of whom have the Irish underdog's in as many as 4 to 6 games)Notre Dame will need Everett Golson to harness his 2012 feats.
And the backfield must play a huge role as well.
If ability itself could catapult results to higher levels, Folston alone will have no problem handling those expectations and will easily lead the charge of the talented trio in Folston,Bryant and McDaniel.
In 2013, the 5'10" 209 pound Folston emerged in the Oklahoma game with 2 rushes for a 21 yard average.
Although the Irish lost a heartbreaker that day, it was clear Folston would eventually become the player all expected he would be.
On this day, the Irish would need one player to overcome a stingy team that just would not relent.
Folston emerged with a spectacular performance that gave all Irish faithful reason to cheer and future opponants reason to gasp.
When the smoke cleared, Folston galloped for 140 yards, his first touchdown and a per carry average of over 7 yards on 18 carries.
He would finish the season with a 5 yard plus average per carry and 2 more scores and cemented his spot as perhaps the lead back heading into the 2014 season-something coach Brian Kelly has even speculated he would like to see emerge:
"At times, I’d like to see him be more than just who he is,” Kelly said. “It almost seems like you have to push him more than you’d like. I’d like to see more ’I’m going to take this position over.’”
There is no question Folston is one of the most elite backs the Irish have ever had.
In 2013, his Navy performance placed him 3rd in the history books as a freshman for single game results.
He was selected as the Offensive Newcomer of the Year for the Irish squad.
Add in a full 2014 season and the determination to take on Kelly's request with as much power he brings to the field, there's no doubt Folston will again garner attention when it comes to awards as well as putting up big numbers overall.
Notre Dame is projected in games against USC, Arizona State, Florida State and Stanford as underdogs according to oddsmakers in Vegas.
When the season starts, hedge your bets that Folston will take charge and prove to be a deciding factor in the outcome in most of these games.
And from there, he won't look back.
The performance of Everett Golson and the team defense jetisoned the Irish into the National Championship game 2 seasons ago.
This season, 1 player alone could very well lead the charge.
Of all the players profiled in this series of 'Players To Watch', it is without question that the play of one Tarean Folston alone could very well determine the overall level of play the offense brings to the field this season.
A talented group of receivers surround Golson and the backfield. The line has depth and again a future crop of NFL tight ends are emerging.
Add in the star power and possible determination to take things over from a player like Folston, and the Irish will exceed all expectations.