SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — C.J. Prosise, a wide receiver last season, is challenging leading rusher Tarean Folston for a starting spot in Notre Dame’s backfield.
“You get a good practice on you and if you’ve worked hard, your taking first-team reps,” coach Brian Kelly said Thursday. “You have a sub-par practice based on the standards that we set, you’re not taking first team reps. So it’s a very competitive situation, very fluid.”
Folston, the 5-foot-9, 214-pound junior from Cocoa, Florida, led the Irish with 175 carries for 889 yards rushing a year ago, while Prosise had 10 carries for 126 yards, mostly on sweeps from wide receiver.
Kelly expects those two and quarterback Malik Zaire to carry the bulk of the load for the Irish, who lost second-leading rusher Greg Bryant to suspension.
Prosise said he’s surprised to be in the mix to be a starter.
“I thought I’d be getting reps here and there, helping out,” he said. “Now that there’s an open spot, I’m ready to compete for it.”
The 6-0, 216-pound Prosise, a senior from Petersburg, Virginia, already has shown big-play capability, accounting for three of Notre Dame’s five catches of at least 50 yards last season. He also led Irish receivers with an average of 17.8 yards a catch.
“We think he has a home run kind of ability at that position where now he’ll get an opportunity to get a lot of carries,” Kelly said.
Prosise said the biggest challenge running between the tackles and learning blocking schemes. Folston can see Prosise getting more comfortable.
“He’s done a great job as far as the switch over from receiver to running back,” Folston said.
Folston welcomes the competition.
It “just makes everybody better,” he said.
Still, Folston is eager to show he’s the back who should be getting the majority of carries.
“That’s the way we all compete,” he said. “We all have to have the mindset of carrying the ball 20, 30-plus times a game. That’s always the mindset.”
Kelly said he’s aware of reports that Bryant has enrolled at a junior college in Florida, but said he hasn’t talked with him. Kelly described Bryant as “elusive.”
“I want Greg back here if he wants a Notre Dame degree and is committed to a Notre Dame education. Obviously, from what I’m hearing, that’s not what he’s interested in. I think he’s interested in playing football,” Kelly said. “At Notre Dame you have to do both.”