With Notre Dame entering spring football this year with just two scholarship running backs, one of the biggest question marks surrounding the Irish offense was who would carry the ball until reinforcements Dexter Williams and Josh Adams report to campus this summer. Tuesday Brian Kelly let us know. Senior slot wide receiver CJ Prosise will be cross training at running back.
“He’s been in the running back meetings,” Kelly said of the senior receiver coming off his best performance of his career in the Music City Bowl. “He’ll get a lot of work at running back,” he added.
Prosise showed what he can do running the football out of the backfield against LSU in the Music City Bowl with three carries for 75 yards including the go-ahead, game winning 50 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Up until that point, Prosise had never had more than two carries in a single game and the only time he carried the ball more than once was against Northwestern when he actually lost three yards.
While Prosise will be cross-training at running back, fellow slot wide receiver and one time running back Amit Carlisle, will not. “Amir will not cross‑train. He’ll stay at the slot receiver,” Kelly said. “C.J. will get quite a bit of work at running back.”
Even though Carlisle started his Notre Dame career at running back, it’s not surprising that Kelly and his newly retooled offensive staff would experiment with Prosise over Carlisle given Carlisle’s struggles at running back in 2013 and Prosise’s more ideal size for the position. Prosise measured in at 6-0.5 and 220 lbs on the spring football roster while Carlisle checked in at 5-10 and 192 lbs.
Notre Dame also has a slew of options at the slot position for a change with Prosise and Carlisle being joined by Tori Hunter this spring and incoming freshman CJ Sanders joining the group in the summer for fall camp.
Prosise will join a backfield this spring that includes just Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant among the scholarship athletes on the roster. The duo, while potentially dynamic, gives Notre Dame a very thin margin for error this fall especially if injuries were to hit in the backfield like they did on the defensive side of the ball last fall.
While Prosise had his struggles with catching the football at times as a junior in 2014, he showed a lot of promise at wide receiver and could still end up being Notre Dame’s primary slot receiver this fall. If his performance against LSU, however, is any indication of what he is capable of in a combination roll, new offensive Mike Sanford could have a very versatile and dynamic weapon for his the Irish offense.