Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise has proven himself to be a versatile NFL prospect.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball in the first quarter of the 2014 Music City Bowl against the Louisiana State Tigers at LP Field. Notre Dame won 31-28. ( Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — He has never played running back – ever. That may all change as C.J. Prosise returns to Notre Dame for his senior season.
Prosise started six games last year at wide receiver for the Irish but was the hit of this year’s spring practice playing a different position. Lacking depth at the running back spot entering spring practice, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly used Prosise, a slot receiver, in the backfield. The results were surprising. Prosise led all Irish ball carriers in the annual Blue-Gold spring game with 64 yards on 12 carries.
A speedster from Virginia, Prosise was a first-team All-State selection as a defensive back in his junior and senior years at Woodberry Forest High School. The 6-0, 220-pounder became a key contributor last season as a special teamer and a wide receiver. Prosise was the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year leading the team in special teams tackles with 11. He also finished the year with 29 receptions for 516 yards and two touchdowns.
He flashed some of his running skills in last year’s Music City Bowl win over LSU. Prosise scored on a 50-yard run, one in which he outran the entire Tigers defense. The senior-to-be displayed the kind of speed that allowed him to lead the Irish with four plays of over 50 yards.
Blessed with a unique combination of size and speed, Prosise is creating a niche for himself. Kelly has stated that Prosise will be given every chance to start. If he is the best running back, he will
start. If he is one of the three best wide receivers, he will start. How it all plays out in the fall will be very interesting. Prosise could become a hybrid running back/wide receiver in the mold of a Percy Harvin.
Harvin–through his career at the University of Florida and in the NFL–has made the hybrid slotback position something that more NFL teams desire. Teams in the league are searching for bigger, more durable types such as a Ty Montgomery. Green Bay drafted Montgomery out of Stanford to become that hybrid player. Montgomery stands 6-0 and weighs 222 pounds.
While he is making a name for himself at Notre Dame, Prosise might also be building a resume that will lead to a pro career. The number of players who have the size and speed as well as running and catching ability is limited. What the NFL holds for Prosise will play out this season. For now, Kelly just has to figure where to play him on the field.