Notre Dame adds commitment from RB CJ Holmes

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

BEAVERTON, Ore. — The suspense for CJ Holmes ended with the running back recruit pulling a leprechaun onto a pontoon and putting a Notre Dame hat on his head.

It signaled his verbal commitment to the Irish and the unofficial end of his recruitment.

The 6-foot, 192-pound prospect released a video as part of Bleacher Report’s Commitment Week on Friday while at The Opening Finals at Nike World Headquarters. Throughout the week, the website has unveiled commitments with heavily produced videos for top recruits.

Holmes filmed the segment, which featured him hanging out on a pontoon with his friends, with Bleacher Report in late June. He knew his decision shortly after visiting Notre Dame for the Irish Invasion last month and wanted to make his commitment special.

“Right after I left the campus, it was like the first time you see that girl and fall in love,” Holmes said. “You don’t know how to explain it to your mom, but you have a gut feeling that it’s going to work. That’s really how it went. I had never felt so interested in a school where I wanted to just go back.”

In the video, Holmes reeled in an Alabama helmet and a Tennessee jersey while fishing on a lake, but threw both back before pulling in the leprechaun. He chose the Irish over offers from the Crimson Tide, Volunteers and other schools including Michigan, Penn State and Syracuse.

Holmes didn’t expect his recruiting process to end so quickly, but his trip to South Bend changed his plan.

“Going in you just think you’re going to just another visit. You’ll have some people talk to you about some things you don’t really care about,” Holmes said. “But something was different this time.”

Notre Dame separated itself from the pack on the same weekend Holmes impressed during the camp portion of the Irish Invasion. A running back with playmaking ability, Holmes caught passes downfield including a one-handed catch.

Holmes will likely play in the backfield at Notre Dame, but he could also play as a slot receiver. He’s also shown skills as a defensive back at Cheshire (Conn.) Academy. He projects in head coach Brian Kelly’s offense much like C.J. Prosise and Theo Riddick did for the Irish.

Rivals ranks Holmes as a four-star recruit and the No. 5 all-purpose back in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 42 athlete.

Holmes joins a Notre Dame recruiting class that already includes 14 commitments for 2017. He’s the first running back in the class, but he’s accompanied by quarterback Avery Davis, wide receiver Jordan Pouncey, tight ends Brock Wright and Cole Kmet, and offensive lineman Josh Lugg and Dillan Gibbons.

The group could be joined by four-star wide receiver Tarik Black, a teammate of Holmes, in the future. Black visited Notre Dame a week after Holmes did in June. Holmes has already started the recruiting pitch to continue their careers together.

“I already texted him (Friday) morning. I called him (Friday) afternoon. He already knows how to act. He knows what to think,” Holmes said. “That’s my best friend, so I tell him all the time that he has to make a decision for himself. He has to find a fit for him. I’d never pressure him into going somewhere that’s not going to work. It’s been our dream to play together, but it’s not a priority.”

With the addition of Holmes, Notre Dame’s 2017 recruiting class moved up to No. 8 in the country according to 247Sports. Rivals ranks the Irish crew 10th.

Holmes added some drama to a recruitment that clearly was trending in Notre Dame’s direction when he named Michigan, Alabama, Penn State and Syracuse as his top four schools on Twitter earlier in the week. He later deleted the tweet, but he wanted to keep fans guessing.

In the end, no school could beat the Irish.

“Notre Dame, they set themselves apart from any other school,” Holmes said. “The academic aspect always thrills a kid when you’re thinking about making a decision that’s going to impact your life. Knowing that my parents were happy with my decision kind of laid into everything and made it easier.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

B/R Commitment Week: 4-star @CjHo1mes fishes for his school #BRCommitmentWeekhttps://t.co/VJya4qCAmf

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 8, 2016

Watch highlights of Holmes in his junior season below via Hudl.

CJ Holmes runs a drill during the Irish Invasion at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, June 18, 2016. ND Insider Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA