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OFD Film Room: WR commit CJ Sanders is Electric

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There were questions about Notre Dame commit CJ Sanders when he moved back to California and whether or not he could compete with the best in that state. He's proven so far that he's a playmaker no matter where he plays

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All it took was two plays. Two plays and everyone's expectations for Torii Hunter Jr. went from "I hope he finally gets to play this season" to "We need to get this guy the football".

Two plays, the second a touchdown, and it was enough to get Notre Dame fans excited about the potential playmaking ability of Hunter Jr. Will Fuller has certainly showed he can be a big play guy so far this season, but adding another player with that kind of impact would take Everett Golson and the offense to another level.

And both Hunter Jr. and Fuller are only sophomores. It's impossible not to get excited to think that they are going to be around South Bend for at least a few more years. Having players that can create plays and not being forced to drive the football 80 yards every time is something that has been lacking for the most part with Brian Kelly's offense since he came to Notre Dame. Now it seems like the potential for splash plays is growing with these two players and it's going to get even better for Notre Dame once CJ Sanders gets to campus.

It's been known basically since he committed to Notre Dame that Sanders was moving back to California and was transferring from Brentwood Academy (Tennessee) to Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks, California). They play some pretty good football at Brentwood Academy, but I don't think many would argue that Sanders was about to take a step up in competition. Is he going to be the same kind of player he was in Tennessee or is the speed of the players on the west coast going to catch up to him?

I watched film of the some early season play from Sanders including his most recent game against Serra High School (Gardena, California) and it's pretty obvious that Sanders has the ability to be great no matter what part of the country he plays in. He was dynamic whenever he touched the ball against Serra, a team loaded with big time 4 and 5 star prospects in the classes of 2015 and 2016. When he either caught or was handed the ball, he made something out of it every time. He made several people miss and showed phenomenal acceleration in a first half punt return that he took to the house. The only thing missing from Sanders' game was more touches. Notre Dame couldn't simply get the ball in his hands enough, mostly due to Serra bracketing him in coverage.

Regardless, Sanders showed that he could not only compete, but excel against some of the best prep talent in the nation. He also showed the kind of playmaking ability that could be a compliment to players like Fuller and Hunter Jr. as early as next season.

Here's an example of what Sanders can do with the football after the catch from early in his senior season:


Sanders is lined up off the line tight to formation in the slot on the trips side.



The other two receivers have basically cleared out and that has allowed to Sanders to be open in the flat after running an out route.


The ball is thrown behind Sanders so he isn't able to turn it up and run. He is forced to stop and adjust to the football with defenders now closing in on him.



First tackler arrives. Sanders make the first tackler miss. As you can see though, it sure looks like Sanders is surrounded with no hope of gaining any yards after the catch.


With a subtle shift and quick burst, the defenders are left wondering how in the heck Sanders escaped them.



There was one guy left who had a shot at Sanders and he blows by him.

It was a simple out route that should have gained about four yards and he turned it into six points. The best part about it is that he had pretty much no blocking on the play. This wasn't a designed screen where he got a crease to run through. He made that play happen all by himself.

Sanders has elite quickness that allows him to be a threat whenever he touches the ball. I saw him in person at The Opening where he kept making plays during 7 on 7 and ran a ridiculous 3.80 short shuttle during SPARQ testing. I'm not sure Barry Allen could run a 3.80 short shuttle.

Will Fuller has made big plays for the Irish. Torii Hunter Jr. looks primed to compliment Fuller with some big plays of his own. CJ Sanders is pretty much waiting his turn at Notre Dame High School before he adds even more explosive ability to the Irish offense.