Tracking C'Bo Flemister's path from two-star running back to Notre Dame signee

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

C’Bo Flemister was grateful for the opportunity to play college football at Georgia Southern. That’s why he committed to the Eagles last June.

But the running back from Zebulon (Ga.) Pike County always felt more offers would come his way. They did come eventually, but he had plenty of work to do and plenty of waiting ahead of him.

Flemister put his game on display as a senior by rushing for 2,348 yards, reportedly the most in Georgia last season, and rushing for 35 touchdowns. Four of those touchdowns came in Pike County’s first playoff victory in school history.

Those accomplishments led to a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech, and Flemister quickly switched his verbal commitment to the Yellow Jackets in early December.

In the coming weeks, Tennessee joined Flemister’s offer list. With another offer on the table, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back decided to pass on signing with Georgia Tech during the early signing period.

"When I committed, I intended to sign early,” Flemister said. “I was kind of iffy about it towards the end when Tennessee offered me. I talked to a bunch of people in recruiting and coaches, and they told me they think I should sign later. Ultimately, it was my decision. It was the best decision."

That left the door open for Tennessee, who hosted Flemister for an official visit the weekend of Jan. 13, and eventually Notre Dame. The Irish extended an offer on Jan. 17, and he visited campus nine days later. He had plenty of thinking to do.

“It didn't really take me by surprise or anything,” Flemister said. “I always felt I was under-recruited. It was just nice to have good options like that.”

In the end, Flemister decided Notre Dame was his best option. He told running backs coach Autry Denson shortly after his official visit that he wanted to join the Irish. He put his pledge to paper last week on National Signing Day.

“Coach Denson did a good job in explaining everything to me,” Flemister said. “After I took the visit, I didn't think I had a better option than Notre Dame as far as the education and the level of football.”

When the Irish dismissed running backs Deon McIntosh and C.J. Holmes from the team in January, Flemister became Notre Dame’s top priority to help fill the void. Notre Dame currently has only three scholarship running backs on its roster: Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr. and Jahmir Smith.

But how does the Georgia’s leading rusher end up at Notre Dame with such a short recruitment? Denson credited director of scouting Bill Rees, director of player personnel Dave Peloquin and coordinator of recruiting operations Aaryn Kearney for identifying Flemister as a prospect.

“Those guys do a great job of constantly making sure we know who's out there and who's available and doing the research,” Denson said. “We knew about him. We were blessed to be able to get him and have him come up and pull the trigger and like us the way we liked him.”

For whatever reason, Flemister was largely ignored by Power Five programs. Recruiting services weren’t fawning over him either. When he first reported an offer from Notre Dame, both Rivals and 247Sports pegged him as a two-star recruit.

His creative first name, C’Borius, wasn’t enough to garner attention. Flemister uses the shortened C’Bo, which happened to be the nickname of his father, Ronnie. Ronnie Flemister credited his mother for the nickname and his aunt for coming up with C’Borius.

"The school I'm from, we don't get recruited too hard in football,” C’Bo Flemister said. “And I come from the state of Georgia. There are a lot of recruits that get overlooked in the state of Georgia just because there are so many good players here."

Those are both good theories. The Rivals database lists Flemister as the only recruit from Pike County to receive a star rating from the recruiting service that started ranking prospects in 2002. In the 2018 class alone, Rivals gave 180 recruits from Georgia a three-star rating or higher.

Perhaps many college coaches were aware of Flemister but still decided to pass on him. Denson liked what he saw.

"When you look at our guys, we always talk about holistically, who are they?” Denson said. “From a faith standpoint, a very strong young man — him and his family. From an academic standpoint, right on par with what we believe. From an athletic standpoint, you've seen the film. He can run.

“I call him a throwback player. He's a down, dirty, old-school, get-it-done type of player. It was refreshing to watch his film. When you put all three of those together, he checks every box for us."

Not long after Notre Dame showed interest, both Rivals and 247Sports released new reviews on Flemister. 247Sports moved him up 100 spots to the No. 40 running back in the 2018 class as a three-star recruit. Rivals elevated Flemister to a three-star rating, but he did not make the final list of the top 50 running backs in the class.

Everything worked out for Flemister in the long run, but he remembers how recently he was overlooked. He won’t have to wait long to prove himself at Notre Dame.

"I wouldn't say I have a chip on my shoulder, but I feed off the doubt,” Flemister said. “I feed off of being under-recruited. I feed off of being slept on.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Running back C'Bo Flemister, a three-star recruit, signed with Notre Dame last week after ditching his verbal commitment to Georgia Tech. (Photo courtesy of Vivid Moments Photo. More available at vividmomentsphoto.shootproof.com)