Both head coach Brian Kelly and running backs coach Autry Denson said on National Signing Day that C.J. Holmes could see snaps as a freshman in 2017.
That audition for playing time begins this spring.
After a week long break, Notre Dame resumes spring practice Wednesday morning. The Irish will hold three workouts this week, including a Saturday practice that is open to the media.
Holmes, one of five early enrollees in the class of 2017, is already in the thick of things in the running back rotation. He has gained six pounds since arriving on campus in January and is starting to make a name for himself in the running back room.
“His approach was to get out there and do everything he’s been doing,” junior running back Josh Adams said of Holmes. “… He kind of knows that he’s going to mess up a little bit. As a unit, we’re helping each other out and we’re making each other better.”
Holmes, who was not made available to the media after the team’s first practice on March 8, is one of four running backs competing for playing time. Adams, the team’s leading rusher in 2016, is atop the depth chart, followed by junior Dexter Williams, sophomore Tony Jones Jr. and Holmes, the only running back the Irish signed in 2017.
The 6-0, 206-pound Holmes is wearing No. 15 with the Irish, the same number worn by wide receiver Corey Holmes last year. Corey Holmes elected to transfer out of the program after seeing limited snaps in 2016.
C.J. Holmes, though, will likely have some sort of role in the Notre Dame offense this fall.
“We’re going to ask him to compete right away,” Kelly said on National Signing Day. “He’s going to be one of the guys that we’re going to force feed him a little bit and get him involved.”
Because of Notre Dame’s change in offensive leadership, Holmes is learning new coordinator Chip Long’s playbook at the same rate as the team’s other backs. Long’s offense will likely feature more passes to running backs, a strength of the former four-star recruit’s game.
Denson highlighted Holmes’ versatility last month. Spending more time in the offense will allow that trait to show on the field.
“I don’t think he has any worries, he’s going out there and playing and he knows that he’s going to pick it up along the way,” Adams said of Holmes. “He’s doing a great job with that, and he’s making us better and we’re just to help make him better.”