Irish A-to-Z: C.J. Prosise

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Spring hero? Tough to find a bigger one than C.J. Prosise. With numbers low in the backfield this spring, Notre Dame’s emerging slot receiver transitioned to running back—and immediately became an X factor in 2015.

Pushing close to nearly 230 pounds this summer (according to his head coach), Prosise might be the closest thing this team has to a power back. Add in the kind of blazing speed that allowed Prosise to get behind secondaries and run away from LSU in the Music City Bowl, and the latest position switch in Prosise’s career might be a game-changer.

Let’s take a closer look at one of Notre Dame’s most versatile offensive weapons.

 

C.J. PROSISE
6′.5″, 22o lbs.
Senior, No. 20, WR/RB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A three-star prospect out of Woodberry Forrest, the program that also produced Doug Randolph and Greer Martini. Prosise was a three-star prospect, though had some intriguing intangibles, including a second-place finish in the state championships in the 100m dash and seven return touchdowns as a senior.

Notre Dame saw him as a safety with special teams ability when they inked him. He transitioned to offense after his freshman season.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2012): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2013): Played in all 13 games as a wide receiver, making a position switch during the spring. Made seven catches on the season, two coming in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Junior Season (2014): Played in all 13 games and started six. Caught 29 passes for 516 yards, with a per catch average of 17.8 yards, the team’s best. Ran 10 times for 126 yards and a touchdown, a fifty-yarder against LSU. Notre Dame’s special teams player of the year, making 11 special teams tackles.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

It feels like I was pretty dialed in last year when it came to Prosise. I’ve always thought he was a really intriguing football player.

At this point, how Kelly and Mike Denbrock distribute touches at wide receiver will likely dictate how productive Prosise is on Saturdays. Simply doubling his production from last year feels like the baseline expectation, though it shouldn’t be too much to ask of Prosise to improve on the relatively modest 10.3 yards per catch he had in 2013.

(Of course, if the kick returner job is still up for grabs with George Atkinson off to the NFL, Prosise might be able to do some damage from there.)

Ultimately, opening up the playbook could be the one thing that helps Prosise the most. If Notre Dame has the athletes, they need to find a way to get them the touches. At running back, that means finding the right mix for Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant and Cam McDaniel. At receiver, it means getting six or seven guys opportunities.

The slot has always been a spot that had Percy Harvin-like versatility. Outside of a few fly sweeps, we have yet to see that from the Irish. Kelly has the creativity. He’s also got the personnel, with a former running back in Carlisle playing there along with a 220-pounder who would be as the Irish’s biggest running back on the roster.

Let’s see if that’s a way to get Prosise involved in 2014.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

For a guy entering his senior year, Prosise still feels like he’s just scratching the surface. With just 15 career practices at running back, the fact that Prosise felt so comfortable there this spring is a good thing. Even better? His knack for making a big play with the ball in his hands transitioned to running back as well.

Should we believe Brian Kelly when he said that Prosise might have earned himself 10 carries a game? Only Tarean Folston did that last year with 13.5 a game. But as a dangerous receiver, ball carrier and slot receiver, Prosise spent this spring reminding Kelly and Mike Denbrock that he’s one of the team’s top playmakers. So expect Mike Sanford to kick the tires on Prosise during fall camp, and hopefully keep calling his number.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Greg Bryant’s suspension opens the door for Prosise to take major reps at running back to start the season. And if Prosise runs with the opportunity, Bryant’s got his work cut out for him if he thinks he’s going to move back into the No. 2 hole.

But for all the talk about Prosise being a natural at running back, I don’t think he’s at his most valuable as simply a running back. We’ve spent the better part of six seasons talking about the slot receiver and hoping that Kelly would find someone who could be his Percy Harvin. Well, it’s hard to find a better fit than Prosise, who is actually more physically impressive than Harvin, though lacks the extra gear that Harvin had in college.

The more touches the better for Prosise. And if I were calling the shots, he’d get a chance to return kicks for me as well.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT
Colin McGovern, OL
Peter Mokwuah, DL
John Montelus, OL
Nyles Morgan, LB
Sam Mustipher, OL
Quenton Nelson, OL
Tyler Newsome, P
Romeo Okwara, DE
James Onwualu, LB