C.J. Prosise Makes Heisman Statement

Sep 19, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Prosise wiggled his way through the gaps created by Notre Dame’s stout offensive line, found one last crease and then transitioned into another gear, leaving Georgia Tech’s defenders in the dust en route to a 91-yard touchdown scamper, the longest in Notre Dame Stadium’s history. The historic run depleted any hope that may have remained on Georgia Tech’s sideline of a comeback, and capped off a a dominant game by Prosise, gaining 198 yards on 22 carries – at a remarkable 9 yards per carry – as well as three touchdowns.

What an unorthodox path to stardom. Prosise began his career at Notre Dame as a three-star safety prospect hailing from Woodberry Forest, Va., that was unranked nationally. After his freshman season he was moved to wide receiver and given a chance at the slot position, a place he called home until cross-training at running back this spring. In what is seemingly becoming commonplace in South Bend, Prosise unexpectedly climbed the depth chart, rising from a No. 3 running back in training to starter after Greg Bryant left the program and Tarean Folston suffered a torn ACL in the early moments against Texas in week one. As inexplicable as Prosise’s emergence may be, it has come as no surprise to Prosise’s former high school coach, Clint Alexander.

C.J. has always had a team-first attitude to complement his dynamic athleticism, which is what truly made him special. Prosise’s selflessness helped him garner All-State honors as a kick and punt returner as well as being named a three-time All-State defensive back. And just how athletic was Prosise despite his lackluster recruiting profile? Alexander fondly recalls Prosise recording a video clip to send to Notre Dame.

“He did the Michael Jordan off-the-free-throw dunk, “ Alexander told Scout.com. “At that point, they [Notre Dame’s coaching staff] were pretty sold he was a great athlete.”

As improbable as his pathway may be, Prosise, despite having never played the running back position even in high school, is making a strong case to be inserted into the race for the Heisman Trophy. The Virginia native currently sits No. 5 in the country in rushing yards with 451 and is averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Should he keep this pace the first-time running back will gain 1,800 yards on the ground, obliterating the current single-season record of 1,400 yards set by Vagas Ferguson in 1979.

To put Prosise’s accomplishments to date in perspective, preseason Heisman favorite Ezekiel Elliot of Ohio State has rushed for 120 less yards despite having played only unranked opponents. Likewise, star LSU running back and preseason Heisman favorite, Leonard Fournette – who averaged over 10 yards per carry against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl – has rushed for 64 less yards. Three weeks into the 2015 season and it appears the only thing that can slow Prosise down is a lack of a proven backup to provide C.J. with an occasional respite from his heavy workload.

The Heisman hype for Prosise should only intensify this week as Notre Dame gets set to host the 0-2 Massachusetts Minutemen. The Minutemen have one of the worst defenses in the country, surrendering an average of over 500 yards per game, 228 of which have been gained on the ground. Colorado had two 100 yard rushers in their 48-14 demolishing of UMass in week one, and nearly managed a third with backup running back Phillip Lindsay. Ideally Notre Dame will be able to unleash Prosise on the Massachusetts defense and develop a significant enough lead to give meaningful minutes to true freshmen running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams.

C.J. Prosise may have taken the road less traveled to the national spotlight, but there is no denying the college football world now knows his name.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance on MSNBC as a sports contributor. He talks football 24 hours a day, much to the chagrin of his wife and those around him. Scott can be reached at scottjanssenhp@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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43 Comments

  1. I have a feeling that many will be unsatisfied after the game today. ND can win by 17 and it may as well be as good as a lose.

  2. Southside, so I have read. Agree completely. Especially about the timing of game. Expect blitzing not much help as ball will come out to quick. I.E. Virginia. Hoping coaching staff has a formula that the backs, lb’ers and line can execute. Agree it needs to be addressed for the rest of the season also. I have faith in the players. Going to enjoy the game. Thanks

  3. 45YRF , Yes , the secondary is going to get a work out and facing UMASS’s pass happy offense couldn’t have come at a better time. Up coming schedule has outstanding QB’s that can air it out. However the best QB could be UMASS’s Blake Frohnapfel. He is really good and a good test for Irish passing D. He threw 50 to 60 passes in quite a few games last season and had 50 % completion average (umassathletic.com). ND is favored heavily and should win. Irish D will be busy though. Go Irish

  4. Nobody is looking past this game. Especially those who are playing in it. Eager to see how “D-backs” fair and if they get some help from “D -line”. Also the youth on the offensive side of ball. They seem hungary and determined. (David & UMASS 55-0). Funny. Nice that he is gone. Thanks

  5. You’re cherry picking your stats bucky. It’s 2 championships in 43 years. Now considering the program is willing to accept kids that show up to school with a pair of cleats, a 16 pack of dull crayons, and a dirty d-ball syringe…I’d call that disappointing.

  6. JDH, I agree. No one is claiming this game is going to be a cakewalk. That’s perhaps because we’ve all gotten used to ND blowing these types of home games, over and over, throughout the last two-plus decades, but especially since the Holtz era. Even Lou’s teams lost a few seemingly easy games at home towards the end of his tenure. I would love to get back to the point where we come to expect cake walks. How refreshing it would be to be able to rest starters for the second half and give key backups valuable playing time!

    Let’s just hope and pray that ND doesn’t come out like zombies, thinking that UMass will just roll over. I’m hopeful but not confident. Recent history is not on our side in these types of games.

    GO IRISH!

  7. @zeke:”everyone is talking like this is going to be a cakewalk, easy blowout victory etc.” I don’t see anyone talking that way. Granted, the article states that, STATISTICALLY, UMASS has a terrible defense. And I don’t see any comments above that say it’s going to be a cakewalk. As I stated, it SHOULD (hopefully) be over by halftime, so that our starters can rest. But I do know what you mean. These games tend to show ND playing down and losing focus in past years. But I think this 2015 team is a more mature team with better leadership.

  8. Well, here we go again, everyone talking like this is going to be a cakewalk, easy blowout victory, etc etc. And well it SHOULD be, but guess what….. I have seen this show before. Seems like everytime we get one of these games it becomes this huge struggle because guess what, the visiting team looks at this like we got nothin to lose and everything to gain… ND is who needs to be on guard and the ones who play not to lose. All the pressure is on ND in these kind of games, and they don’t normally respond well to it either. ND’s home field used to be intimidating, but not so much these days. I am guessing this game is going to be a lot closer than people think it will be or should be. Just hoping Irish will survive it. I would LOVE to see an old fashioned 70 point butt whipping put on Umass, but for some reason Kelly won’t hang those kind of points on opponents. ND doesn’t want to EMBARRASS them or whatever so ND lets them stay in the game and it bites us in the ass EVERY TIME. I hope ND can put second tier players in (Wimbush especially) at the half. We will see…..

  9. I agree, strength of schedule can be very comical at times.

    The first column of numbers indicate the teams’ current nation ranking followed by it’s current won / loss / tie record.
    The numbers to the right of a team’s schedule strength
    are its rank of schedule(SOS) – (in parentheses) – and its
    record versus teams in these rating’s CURRENT top 10 and top 30 respectively.
    (2015 Jeff Sagarin ratings per USA Today)

    RATING W L T SCHEDL (RANK) VS top 10 | VS top 30
    1 Mississippi A = 95.08 3 0 0 59.92 ( 112) 1 0 0 | 1 0 0 |
    2 Alabama A = 95.06 2 1 0 83.35 ( 2) 0 1 0 | 1 1 0 |
    3 Georgia A = 91.91 3 0 0 66.50 ( 59) 0 0 0 | 0 0 0 |
    4 Ohio State A = 90.38 3 0 0 68.75 ( 41) 0 0 0 | 1 0 0 |
    5 LSU A = 90.33 2 0 0 81.21 ( 7) 0 0 0 | 1 0 0 |
    6 Southern Cal A = 90.14 2 1 0 64.55 ( 79) 0 0 0 | 0 1 0 |
    7 Notre Dame A = 88.79 3 0 0 75.8 8 ( 16) 1 0 0 | 1 0 0 |
    8 Baylor A = 88.39 2 0 0 56.34 ( 149) 0 0 0 | 0 0 0 |
    9 Georgia Tech A = 87.70 2 1 0 53.65 ( 161) 0 1 0 | 0 1 0 |
    10 Florida State A = 87.61 3 0 0 61.94 ( 100) 0 0 0 | 0 0 0 |

  10. Haha,
    I’m certainly not perfect. But at least I’m not such a shell of a man that I need to troll other fan/team websites in a desperate attempt to make my mind think my pee-pee is bigger than it is. Say that reminds me, why are you here again? What is it that you hope to gain, other than what I just stated. Can you articulate your end-goal for us? You are a very special snowflake.

  11. A little humor, OK, but for Bad Breath to keep beating the same old dead horse, strength of schedule, is really comical. Maybe not really champions after all? Michigan State on the road, Wisconsin 59-0, then Alabama and Oregon is not enough? Seems like more than one tough game to me? Your disgust should be aimed at Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska to name a few for it is their recent ineptitude that is to blame for the cakewalk that has become the OSU regular season schedule.

    And he says “every ten or fifteen years” mockingly but I will take 2 NC’s and 2 title game losses in 13 years plus other BCS bowl wins and top ten rankings just about every year. If you add in multiple Heisman candidates/winners, and while a little out of context, I could sort of agree with him on one thing …

    ND fans SHOULD be disgusted.

  12. C’mon buckeye, take it easy, lighten up a little, where’s your sense of humor?

    “…. What does one call a baby buckeye?”

    ” Shelly ”

    Now that there’s’ funny, I don’t care who ya are!!

    (You do realize of course, that a “buckeye” is a hairless nut, right??? )

  13. Well buckeye, with the cupcake schedule your team has, I don’t know that their proving anything more than that they’re overrated. One more scare like NIU, and they could fall out before they reach the only meaningful challenge on the docket… Michigan State.

    It’s one thing to rise to the occasion after a series of (should be easy) landslides – another to suffer the physical and mental attrition of a willfully tough schedule. What teams like VT and NIU do to a team like yours is prove to too many of them that they may not be champions after all. That they have a finger painted schedule, but might still lack the literacy to get to the end.

    One tough game the whole year!? ND fans, as hungry as they may be for a championship, would be disgusted. Lowering academic standards to the level of graduating NFL players or Used Car Salesmen? Never going to happen.

    So, pipe off with pride buckeye. But don’t forget the general lowering of the bar that it takes for your boys to get there…every ten or fifteen years.

  14. Shazam,
    That made me laugh out loud. There are several babies from what I understand. Normally I wouldn’t go below the belt like that (or maybe I would), but I’m just dumbfounded by a non-ND fan who trolls this site. It’s truly one of the most pathetic displays I’ve ever seen, and we’re talking about the internet!

  15. Babies??

    How many babies are we talking here?

    Bushels? Bundles? Buttloads?

    Curious…. What does one call a baby buckeye?
    Acorn? Pistachio? Filbert? Shelly?

  16. Who is silent? With each passing week my dream tete-a-tete is closer to becoming a reality – another chance to beat ND like a drum and this time in a playoff. Don’t worry about my team, it’s ND that has to prove it is worthy.

  17. Being down in “lsu country” and a HUGH Irish fan, I can only add this to the conversation. CJ is awesome, but Leonard Fournette has played only two games since the first one was cancelled due to weather. That game was supposed to be against the power house team (irony) McNeese State so Fournette would have racked up big numbers. I hope that ALL of the Irish football team remain healthy for the rest of the season, I hold my head down ever time I see a player slow to get up because it could be the next season ending injury. I hope CJ is in the Heisman talk at the end of the season, when the Irish are 12-0 !!!!!! Go Irish !!!!!

  18. Speaking of Ohio State, where is our drive-by troll, buckeye? He chest was quite puffy before last weekend, but as would be expected, silent after his team was very nearly beaten by Northern Illinois.

  19. Perhaps David should just borrow a line from the late great Yogi Berra…..

    “I really didn’t say everything I said”

  20. Ron,
    Is david going the way of Sad Warrior and, as MacArthur said, “fading away”?

    The UMASS game is one where some of our skilled players need rest. It should be over by halftime so Prosise and Kizer can sit and relax. An injury to either one of them would be catastrophic. I did not realize the Clemson, due to a very weird scheduling glitch, will have 2 BYE weeks before we go there. In my opinion, and a dose of wishful thinking, that does not bode well for the Tigers. That’s a long time to go without the mandated focus of gameday.

  21. He’s doing at his position the likes we haven’t seen since Reggie Brooks, having both great speed AND strength versus one or the other only. I hope the other 2 frosh step up because CJ will need breathers. A bit early to forecast Heisman greatness but he seems to be getting better each week. Hope he has a good game on Saturday and continue being productive to help his team win the game.

    Go Irish

  22. Did I hear one of the announcers on NBC say that Prosise was having issues with his back during the game? The only negative thing I have to say about him was that he didn’t explode through the holes or around the corners on a few carries in the 2nd half of the game which really surprised me until I heard someone say something about his back. It looked like there were even more yards out there for him had this not been an issue. Keeping him healthy is key because he definitely has the tools to be a gamebreaking back obviously. I didn’t know that 91 yards is the longest run ever in ND Stadium history. Pretty cool and good for CJ! Go Irish!

  23. This will be the key to his development.

    Toulmin H. Brown
    July 14, 2014 at 8:27 am
    A speedster like Brown who has my build (thin but with agility) should develop a regular light weight training routine on a daily basis. In addition daily arobic-esc physical regimens developing stamina would be most desirable as or track-n-field related exercises. You would be surprised how a often a common sense approach like this is ignored by athletes at all levels.

  24. “C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium”

    Only ND can bounce back from a flat game vs UVA,V win and then develop a back the caliber of C.J. Prosise. This is the mark of a Champion.

  25. Prosise and Fuller have gotten off to a fantastic start. They will need to deliver consistent performances because ND has such little experience at QB. Kizer is doing well, delivering and exceeding expectations. But like all young QBs, even experience QBs, he is going to have a bad day at the office. ND will have to count on their play-makers to help them win in the games where Kizer is struggling. Lets not forget the offensive line has to stay stable and continue to win the battles up front.

  26. Well, he better learn “high and tight”.

    Though it would be great for him to be in the Heisman conversation, I think Fournett is the guy but then, Prosise is doing, and doing well what I have wanted ND backs to do since Brooks – run with power and speed between the tackles.

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