Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2012.
There were nine this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at an athletic safety from Virginia looking to break in to the rotation next fall.
Safety, C.J. Prosise
Hometown: Petersburg, Virginia
247: 3-star, No. 22 safety, No. 13 Virginia, 89 grade
ESPN: 3-star, No. 22 safety, No. 10 Virginia, 79 grade
Rivals: 3-star, No. 22 Virginia
Scout: 4-star, No. 21 safety
Composite: 3-star, No. 22 safety, No. 9 Virginia, No. 361 nationally
Need at Position: Moderate
Expected Spot on 2013 Depth Chart: 3rd-string, possibly a back-up
Prosise is a perfect example of the type of quality depth that the coaching staff has stacked on the roster. While not an elite prospect coming out of high school Prosise has the size and athleticism to contribute to the 2013 campaign in a variety of ways. Due to the log-jam in front of him he may not be able to crack the two deep at safety but I expect that in addition to contributing on special teams Bob Diaco will find a way for C.J. to contribute in some unique roles on the defense.
We know that C.J. is primarily a safety but his blend of coverage skills and physicality make him a guy that could really contribute against spread offenses that demand an extra athlete on the field that can help out in coverage or run support. C.J. is the type of hybrid player that brings a lot of flexibility to a defensive staff as plans are tailored to individual opponents from week to week. Barring a slew of injuries in the secondary or at Dog linebacker we will likley only see C.J. in spot duty next fall but he could emerge as a real contributor a couple of seasons down the road.
Prosise is the kind of 3-star prospect you want to bring to South Bend: Tall, rangy, athletic, and fast.
Officially listed and recruited as a safety, C.J.'s future may be elsewhere in 2013 and beyond. He's widely considered the picture perfect ball hawking safety with terrific ball skills but there is a serious log-jam at the position heading in to next season.
If Jamoris Slaughter is granted a 6th-year of eligibility safety is going to be stacked even with the loss of Zeke Motta. Slaughter and Farley would return as starters on the back end, with Elijah Shumate back at nickel. With the addition of Nicky Baratti and Austin Collinsworth (who could very well push Farley out of a starting spot) and Prosise is looking like a 6th option at safety coming this spring.
Prosise could be looking at 3rd string safety with plenty of special teams snaps---not altogether a terrible idea for someone with 4 years left---but a couple other positions may help the team.
It's a long shot but Prosise has the ball skills and athleticism to thrive on offense. Plus, like many high school kids he was more prolific on offense and has plenty of experience on that side of the ball.
The problem is that like safety, there is going to be a log-jam at receiver as well with all 9 receivers (everyone minus Jones and Neal) having good size. There is some depth concerns at slot but Prosise is unlikely to help there.
This could be a really good fit for C.J. and he could offer another hybrid defender who could be used in passing situations and against pass-heavy teams.
Shumate did really well as a true freshman nickel corner but Prosise does offer a little more size if he were to play the position. However, most are expecting Max Redfield to come in and play right away and I have the talented freshman backing up Shumate at nickel in 2013. Like at safety, this could mean Prosise is merely a 3rd option next season.
Prosise really doesn't have the weight right now to play this position on an every-down basis but he was rumored to be around 220 pounds during the summer and started fall camp working at this position after Spond's health scare.
Perhaps C.J. could play this Dog/Nickel/Star/Stand on the edge and make plays position like Slaughter has done in the past? Prosise is quite a big larger than Slaughter and could make it work.
No matter what position, Prosise is going to run in to a ton of competition. Even if Spond moves to inside linebacker (something I think may happen with the loss of Anzalone) Prosise would still have to compete with Ben Councell, Jaylon Smith, and possibly others like Romeo Okwara and Doug Randolph.
Long story short, Prosise probably isn't going to get steady minutes from scrimmage but should be one of the better special team stars in 2013. With some attrition or injuries the door to playing time could open though so he'll have to be ready. Also, as you can see from his highlight film he will be a candidate in the return game and should get a long look there in the spring and fall.