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Notre Dame Football: C.J. Sanders to Join SMU Mustangs for Final Year

Sanders will graduate from the university and then join his new team in Dallas.

Nevada v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

C.J. Sanders will use his final year of eligibility in Dallas, joining the SMU Mustangs.

The news was tweeted by his mother, Stacie Harris, on Friday and confirmed by the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver to Irish Illustrated today.

Sanders will use the summer session to finish his degree in management consulting, which should be completed by late July. He’ll then join the Mustangs and, as a graduate student, have immediate eligibility.

The Granada Hills, Calif. resident leaves Notre Dame with 26 career catches for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He also accumulated 2,019 yards on kickoff returns (a 23.5 yard average) and three additional scores. He also racked up 307 yards on punt returns, taking one all the way back.

Sanders attended Brentwood Academy (Tennessee) and Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and, despite being just 5-foot-8, was a standout player at both. Scout ranked him as the 268th player nationally, while Tom Lemming had him 20 spots higher.

His athletic prowess was matched by his on-screen charisma, as a young Sanders accumulated nine credits in either movie or TV shows. His best known role was as a young Ray Charles (nee Robinson) in the 2004 biopic, “Ray.”

While Sanders made an immediate impact on special teams his freshman year, efforts to incorporate him into the offense during his sophomore year largely fizzled after promising performances against the Texas Longhorns and Nevada Wolf Pack. Sanders’ miscues during an October win against the Miami-Florida Hurricanes cost him his position as punt returner, and he was used almost exclusively on kickoff returns during his junior campaign.

We wish Sanders the best of luck as he continues his career in Dallas. The SMU Mustangs open their season against the North Texas Mean Green, which has its own former Class of 2015 Irish recruit, Jalen Guyton.

The Mustangs also play two opponents on the Irish’s 2018 schedule: the Michigan Wolverines (in Ann Arbor) and the Navy Midshipmen (at home).

Sanders announced his intention to leave the university in January, so the scholarship count for the fall remains unchanged. The Irish still have 86 players due to receive a scholarship, one higher than allowed by the NCAA.