Commit C.J. Sanders already invested in Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

C.J. Sanders thought he knew Brian Kelly and Scott Booker.

He’d spoken to his future head coach and lead recruiter from Notre Dame plenty of times before Monday night. But when his mother hosted Kelly and Booker for an in-home visit in Granada Hills, Calif., on Monday, he saw another side of the Irish coaches.

“We had fun. Coach Kelly is actually really funny,” Sanders said. “Coach Booker as well. I had a great time."

Less enjoyable, though, was watching the end of the regular season for Notre Dame. Four consecutive losses to end the season hasn’t shaken Sanders’ commitment to the Irish.

"I'm not new to adversity,” Sanders said. “I faced adversity my whole life. Seeing the team face it, it's just another challenge.”

The strength of Sanders’ commitment is reflected in his use of “we” when referring to the Notre Dame football team. Other schools still reach out to the Irish wide receiver commit, but he remains focused on signing with the Irish in February.

“I know we're young in a lot of areas. From here we can only go up,” Sanders said. “We know what we did wrong. The next step is how we can fix it. Things happen along the road. I'm excited to see how we respond next year with the players we have and especially my class coming in. We're very close. We're going to take the steps necessary to get better and learn from this experience."

Sanders stays in touch with most of the other 20 Irish commits in his class. A number of them have started a group text message chain in which they can all talk to each other. Most of the class will return to campus on Dec. 12 for the awards banquet, but Sanders likely won’t because he already used his official visit this fall.

“It's been cool building that relationship with the guys,” Sanders said. “I have their backs and they have mine. I'm ready to be on campus with the guys and grind it out."

He will have to wait until June to join his future teammates at Notre Dame. Until then, Sanders has shifted his athletic focus to running track at Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame. He finished his football season with 734 receiving yards, 560 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.

Sanders learned this fall how much faster football was played in California after transferring from Brentwood Academy in Tennessee. Now he’s hoping to keep up with some of the West Coast burners on the track.

“I feel like just competing with these guys will make me a better athlete and make me faster,” Sanders said.

Below are highlights of Sanders' senior season via Hudl.

Rivals ranks

Rivals released new individual rankings for the 2015 class and a pair of Notre Dame commits saw big jumps in the top 100. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush leaped 27 spots to No. 38 overall in the country. Cornerback Shaun Crawford moved up 51 spots to No. 63 overall.

Four more Irish pledges — offensive lineman Jerry Tillery (126), offensive lineman Tristen Hoge (150), wide receiver Miles Boykin (151) and linebacker Josh Barajas (228) — made the Rivals top 250. In total, 10 Notre Dame commits received four-star ratings

A number of Notre Dame’s top remaining targets also found a spot in the top 100: cornerback Iman Marshall (4), running back Soso Jamabo (17), defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (58), cornerback Ykili Ross (66), tight end Alize Jones (70) and running backs Mike Weber (71), Ronald Jones (79) and Cameron Scarlett (100).

The new rankings pegged Notre Dame’s 21-member recruiting class as No. 9 in the country. Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Clemson and Tennessee made up the top five.

More offers

With the Irish coaching staff spanning the country to recruit, a number of new prospects have reported offers from Notre Dame. ND Insider covered the new offers in California here. The following recruits have also claimed Irish offers since Sunday:

S Dee Smith, 6-2, 194; Florence (Ala.) High: The Louisville commit reported an offer from Notre Dame on Tuesday. Smith becomes the latest safety prospect to receive interest from the Irish as they look for more help in the secondary in the 2015 class.

The three-star recruit chose the Cardinals over Auburn, Miami, Mississippi State and Missouri. Rivals ranks Smith as the No. 14 prospect in Alabama. 247Sports slates Smith as the No. 32 outside linebacker in the country.

OLB Cameron Brown, 6-5, 200; Potomac (Md.) Bullis: The 2016 prospect reported an Irish offer Wednesday. Brown, a three-star recruit, holds offers from eight schools including Boston College, Michigan State and Penn State.

His teammate, junior quarterback Dwayne Haskins, is also a Notre Dame target. As a junior, Brown racked up 94 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks.

DE Terrell Hall, 6-5, 224; Washington (D.C.) St. John’s: The 2016 prospect reported a Notre Dame offer Wednesday. Hall, who visited Ohio State last weekend, already holds more than 15 offers including Michigan State, Penn State, Tennessee and UCLA.

Rivals rates Hall as a four-star prospect. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 20 weakside defensive end.

Tracking the trail

Notre Dame didn’t waste any time hitting the road to visit its 2015 commits and top targets this week. ND Insider covered the work in California earlier, now here’s a look at other Irish staff sightings reported by the recruits. The list is not comprehensive.


 RB commit Josh Adams – running backs coach Tony Alford


S target Gary Jennings – tight ends coach Scott Booker

OL commit Tristen Hoge – head coach Brian Kelly and outside linebackers coach Bob Elliott

CB Shaun Crawford – offensive line coach Harry Hiestand


DL commit Brandon Tiassum – defensive line coach Mike Elston

S commit Prentice McKinney – defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks

OL commit Trevor Ruhland – Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock

WR target Lawrence Cager – Booker.


LB commit Te’von Coney – Alford and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

LB commit Josh Barajas and DL commit Micah Dew-Treadway – Kelly and Elston

OL commit Jerry Tillery – Cooks. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Wide receiver commit C.J. Sanders, right, met with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly this week in California. (The Tennessean GEORGE WALKER IV)