C.J. Prosise: A Darkhorse Heisman Candidate?


Oct 10, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) runs for a touchdown in front of Navy Midshipmen safety Lorentez Barbour (2) and linebacker Michah Thomas (44) in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

One year ago, C.J. Prosise was a wide receiver with impressive athleticism and playmaking potential. Today, he is a relentless workhorse leading a punishing Irish rushing attack and putting the NCAA on notice.

C.J. Prosise is a superior athlete. It’s as simple as that. There are many synonyms – trust me I combed the thesaurus thoroughly – that can be used to describe him, but superior fits the best.

Take last season, for instance, Prosise was a sophomore wide receiver for Notre Dame working in a complimentary role behind William Fuller. In 13 games, Prosise was an effective wide receiver with big play capability. Converting to running back for his senior season, Prosise has become the weapon of choice for the Notre Dame rushing attack.

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Entering this season, Tarean Folston was supposed to be the bell cow running back. An ACL injury ended Folston’s season and suddenly the spotlight fell on Prosise. One week later, starting quarterback Malik Zaire goes down with a broken ankle and backup quarterback DeShone Kizer entered the backfield with Prosise. The weight of a season’s championship hopes was going to ride on the shoulders of backup QB and a 6’2″ 220 lbs. wide-receiver-turned-running-back in the backfield.

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It was easy to understand any sudden doubts Irish fans may have had at the time, but most doubts were quickly silenced when C.J. Prosise and DeShone Kizer took the field and they have yet to disappoint (outside of the Clemson game). Kizer responded well to the pressure entering the spotlight as an unheralded hero. Prosise was transformed by the spotlight and exploded onto the scene.

Just compare the numbers from Prosise’s 2014 season as a WR, to this season’s breakout campaign as a running back. The results are astounding.Prosise already has 50% more yards from scrimmage in 2015 than he did in 2014 and the season is only half over

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Six games into the season, Prosise currently ranks in the top-20 in three NCAA rushing categories. Prosise is currently 7th in the NCAA in rushing yards and 11th in rushing touchdowns while only ranking 20th in carries. With Prosise’s receiving prowess, he also ranks 4th in yards from scrimmage and 7th in touchdowns from scrimmage. These are numbers worthy of Heisman buzz.

Perhaps you’re impressed but still not convinced that Prosise should be a Heisman candidate. That’s understandable because the numbers don’t always tell the entire story. C.J Prosise may be impressive on the stat sheet, but his dominant impact on the field simply dwarves every statistic.

Prosise’s combinations of his vision as a ball-carrier, change-of-direction ability, extra effort after the first contact, and ability to shed tacklers, are simply astounding to witness. Anytime Prosise touches the rock, he has the potential to break the open the big play. Take this highlight from Notre Dame’s 47-21 victory over Navy for example:

Okay, so that’s the kind of performance he had against Navy in a blowout win. But, C.J. Prosise has played at this level all season. Outside of a bad night against Clemson – 15 carries for 50 yards – Prosise has steamrolled the competition by averaging nearly 130 yards-per-game.

Prosise’s career high performance came when his impact was needed most, in week three against # 14 Georgia Tech. With DeShone Kizer getting his first career start, the Irish were considered underdogs at home against Georgia Tech because of the losses of Folston and Zaire.

How did Prosise respond when his team needed him most?Prosise raised his game a exploded on the field for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 22 carries. Let the Heisman court recognize exhibit ‘B’:

Notre Dame is halfway through its 12-game schedule. With six games remaining: USC, Temple, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Boston College and Stanford. If C.J. Prosise can build upon his performance he has had in the first half of the season, there is every chance that Notre Dame can end up in the College Football Playoff.

If Notre Dame finishes the season with an 11-1 record and a playoff berth, it would be difficult not to consider him a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman.

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