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January 21, 2013
Everywhere you turn, they see you. No rep unnoticed. No play off. Constant scrutiny.
The eye in the sky doesn’t lie.
“You’ve got to get used to not taking a play off because it’s going to be taped and they’re going to see it and if it’s wrong, you’re going to have to fix it,” said 6-foot-2, 208-pound freshman safety C.J. Prosise.
“You learn to work as hard as you can every play.”
For Prosise in the fall of 2012, not every play occurred on the defensive side of the ball where Irish head coach Brian Kelly frequently cited the Petersburg, Va., product for his productivity and progress.
Mainly a defensive player and a return man at Woodberry Forest School, Prosise spent a good portion of his time this fall as a receiver for the Irish prep team.
“I played a lot of scout team receiver and showed that I have a lot of athletic ability,” said Prosise, who scored seven touchdowns on returns as a high school senior - five on kicks, one on an interception, and another returning a fumble.
“They saw that and I worked really hard to make our defense better so we could be better in the game.”
Prosise - who preserved a year of eligibility as a freshman -- mainly used the 2012 season to get his feet on the ground.
“It’s been a learning experience, just getting used to the flow of things,” Prosise said. “Just getting used to the environment in South Bend and learning new things about defense and getting ready for next year.”
Prosise credits Zeke Motta for serving as his greatest role model during his indoctrination season with the Irish.
“Seeing Zeke Motta work and seeing his preparation for games, how he puts his mind into the game and prepares himself to compete, he set a good example for us,” Prosise said.
Now it’s up to Prosise to compete for playing time in a secondary that loses Motta and fifth-year senior Jamoris Slaughter, and returns Matthias Farley at safety. Elijah Shumate (nickel back) and Nicky Baratti - fellow freshmen like Prosise - saw some time in the Irish secondary in 2012.
Otherwise, it’s a wide open race this spring along with guys like Austin Collinsworth - who is coming off shoulder and back surgery - and unproven safeties Eilar Hardy, Chris Badger and John Turner. Five-star prospect Max Redfield is expected to join the mix this summer.
“I need to work on my footwork, but mostly learning the defense more and getting used to things and letting my instincts take over,” Prosise said.
The Notre Dame experience should take care of the rest.
“I’ve definitely matured and become more responsible on my own,” Prosise said. “The whole football and Notre Dame thing, it changes you and makes you more accountable.”
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