Irish backs confident they have more than enough

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — C.J. Prosise has a confession to make. He was not sure he would become a real factor in Notre Dame's backfield race after his spring move from receiver.

"I didn’t think so," the redshirt junior said. "I thought I would get some reps here and there and help out. Now that it’s an open spot, I’m ready to compete for it, and I’m ready to get those reps."

That admission is a bit surprising from a player who had plays of 20 or more yards in nine different games last year, including four plays of 50 or more yards. But it underscores the attitude the Irish backfield is taking upon the loss -- possibly for good -- of the touted Greg Bryant.

What started as a spring experiment of utilizing Prosise as a running and receiving threat has turned into something more permanent with the suspension of the redshirt sophomore Bryant, who will reportedly play at a junior college after being ineligible to suit up for the Irish this fall.

Tarean Folston and his team-best 889 yards from last year are back for a promising junior year. But lurking behind in a not-so-subtle manner is Prosise, the jack-of-all-trades who had started his Irish career as a defensive back but is threatening to turn the first-team into a two-man show, albeit not in the fashion many envisioned before Bryant's departure.

"Once I figured out about the Greg thing -- I’m sorry about everything that happened with him -- once I heard about that, I had in my head I was going to get a lot of reps at running back," Prosise said.

Folston and Bryant, a pair of four-star Florida prospects who arrived together in 2013, had been the only scholarship backs in the spring, precipitating Prosise's dalliance with the unit. But the group has had plenty of company since camp commenced last week, with freshmen Dexter Williams and Josh Adams joining the fold, and with sophomore receiver Justin Brent experimenting as a back in much the same fashion Prosise initially was.

"He’s an athlete," Folston said of Brent. "It wasn’t too hard for him to come from receiver to running back. He still has a couple of things to touch up on, so do all the other backs. He’s been doing pretty good as far as the transition from receiver to running back. That’s not an easy transition. He’s taking it well."

There is one other guy helping to set the tone, too: Josh Anderson, the redshirt senior who became a viral overnight sensation upon his surprising reception of a scholarship Thursday.

"He’s a great guy," Prosise said. "He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. He’s studying pre-med. He’ll be up all night studying, and then he’ll come to practice the next day ready to go. When Coach [Brian] Kelly said he was getting a scholarship, I was so proud and happy for him. I know the work he put in here."