Four-star WR C.J. Sanders commits to Notre Dame

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Clips of C.J. Sanders’ past roles as a child actor surfaced on social media Tuesday afternoon, but it was a future role he secured earlier in the day that brought Sanders’ name back to relevance.

Now a junior at Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy, Sanders is a 5-foot-10, 176-pound college football prospect. On Tuesday, he offered a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.

"I have officially committed to the University of Notre Dame & I thank God for this opportunity. #GoIrish," Sanders wrote in a tweet accompanied with a photo of Sanders wearing a Notre Dame jersey on a recent campus visit.

He is the eighth member of Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class and the second wide receiver of the group, alongside Jalen Guyton of Allen, Texas.

Through three seasons of high school football, Sanders has developed into a four-star prospect. But his time in the national spotlight spans back to 2004 when Sanders played the role of a young Ray Charles in the movie "Ray." With acting long in his past, Sanders has thrived as a football player.

"He's a slot receiver with great hands," said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "He's a sure-handed receiver who really exploded onto the scene as a sophomore as one of the better players in the Nashville area."

He also possesses speed. Sanders clocked a 10.64 in the 100-meter dash in the Tennessee Division II state meet last year. His 40-yard dash time is in the 4.3-4.4 range.

"He's just what Notre Dame was looking for," Lemming said. "They're looking for more speed on the inside. He gives Notre Dame someone who can stretch the defense both vertically and horizontally."

Sanders caught 52 passes for 734 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior at Brentwood Academy. He also scored five touchdowns on runs and as a returner. Rivals ranks Sanders as the No. 29 wide receiver in the 2015 class and No. 247 overall. 247Sports slates him as the 40th-best wide receiver in the country.

"He's a guy that Notre Dame's going to be able to use multiple ways on offense," said 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong. "He's a game-breaker. He's not very big, but he's a physical runner. He can make a lot happen with the ball in his hands. They will be able to line him up in the backfield, in the slot, and he can be a factor in the return game."

Sanders’ commitment followed a visit to Notre Dame this past weekend. Before committing, no 247Sports analyst predicted Sanders landing with the Irish on the site’s Crystal Ball feature. Notre Dame beat out the likes of Stanford, Ohio State, Tennessee and USC, among other schools offering Sanders.

Tight ends coach Scott Booker led Notre Dame’s recruitment of Sanders, who decided he had seen enough following a trip to campus.

"A lot of times when prospects visit Notre Dame, it's so unique compared to the other schools that they're considering," Wiltfong said. "They know whether they fit in or not at Notre Dame. For C.J., he obviously felt like it was a good fit for him. It did happen fast, but Notre Dame has a track record of committing kids shortly after they visit."

Sanders has followed the athletic pedigree set by his father, Chris Sanders, a former member of the Ohio State football and track and field teams. He then played wide receiver for the NFL’s Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans for seven seasons from 1995-2001.

In April, C.J. Sanders announced he would return to California, where he lived as a child, with his mother for his senior year. He plans to attend Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, where he will finish out his high school career before joining the Irish in South Bend.

The addition of Sanders boosted Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class to No. 11 nationally according to 247Sports. Rivals ranks the Irish at No. 12.

"They’re getting productive ballplayers," Lemming said. "Notre Dame is really going all over the place and I like the way this class is shaping up."

More reported offers from ND

The spring evaluation period continues to produce more offers from Notre Dame. The following players reported offers from the Irish this week:

•LB Arthur McGinnis, 6-2, 224; New Orleans Warren Easton: McGinnis reported an offer from Notre Dame on Monday. Rivals ranks McGinnis as a four-star prospect, the No. 15 outside linebacker and No. 243 overall. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 44 outside linebacker. McGinnis holds offers from Texas A&M, UCLA and Oklahoma, among others.

Watch highlights of McGinnis here.

•ATH Donte Jackson, 5-11, 165; Jefferson (La.) Riverdale: Jackson reported an offer from Notre Dame on Monday. Neither Rivals nor 247Sports have ranked the recruit whose offer list has recently exploded. Jackson reported an offer from Georgia less than a month ago and has added offers from Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Oregon since. NOLA.com ranks the running back/wide receiver/defensive back as the No. 22 prospect in Louisiana in the 2015 class.

•WR Tyron Johnson, 6-1, 191; New Orleans Warren Easton: A four-star prospect, Johnson reported an offer from Notre Dame on Tuesday. Rivals ranks Johnson as the No. 5 wide receiver in the 2015 class and No. 43 overall. 247Sports slates him as the No. 7 wide receiver and No. 74 overall. He also holds offers from LSU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, among others.

Watch highlights of Johnson here.

•LB Lokeni Toailoa, 6-1, 212; Rialto (Calif.) Wilmer Carter: A four-star prospect, Toailoa reported an offer from Notre Dame on Tuesday. The Irish came in as the eighth offer for the 2016 prospect. He also holds offers from Arizona State, California, Colorado, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State. 247Sports slates him as the No. 3 inside linebacker in the class and No. 128 overall.

Watch highlights of Toailoa here.

tjames1@sbtinfo.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Brentwood Academy's C.J. Sanders (8) will add great speed to the Notre Dame offense (The Tennessean/George Walker IV).