BEAVERTON, Ore. - Notre Dame added a big-time talent on Friday morning when four-star athlete C.J. Holmes revealed a video announcing his Irish pledge during the first day of The Opening Finals at Nike Headquarters.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder from Cheshire Academy in Connecticut visited South Bend last month for the Irish Invasion and left feeling Notre Dame was a perfect fit for him both athletically and academically. Holmes also held offers from Penn State, Alabama, Tennessee, Michigan and UCLA, among others.
“To be honest my gut was the biggest factor,” Holmes said. “Leaving campus I just had a feeling that was where I was supposed to be. I was infatuated with everything about the institution. I hadn't felt like that anywhere else.”
According Cheshire Academy coach David Dykeman, the Irish expect Holmes to help the offense in a number of different ways.
They see him as a versatile athlete in the mold of C.J. Prosise.
“It was interesting talking to Scott Booker, who is recruiting him,” Dykeman said. “We talked about it a ton and I think one of the things they liked is they watched C.J.'s film, our C.J., and they were sitting there going, 'That's how we use C.J. Prosise,' and we're doing a lot of similar things with C.J. Holmes. I think it's a natural fit.”
Dykeman believes Holmes has the ability to excel at the next level.
“It's funny when you watch C.J,” Dykeman said. “He was 5-foot-7, 157 pounds when we recruited him and he's 6-foot, 200 now. He can do everything. C.J. can run the ball and C.J. can catch the ball. C.J. can return punts and return kicks. He's just an electric athlete that can do a lot of things.”
Scout.com ranks Holmes as the No. 203 prospect in the nation and the No. 15 athlete. He is the top-ranked player in the state of Connecticut and the teammate of Irish receiver target Tarik Black, who considers Notre Dame as one of his favorites.
As for Holmes, that Irish Invasion visit not only impressed the four-star athlete but it also captured the imaginations of his parents. Father Craig Holmes joined his son on that South Bend trip.
“For me, it was just an unbelievable opportunity because I've known the school since I was a little kid and the history of Notre Dame and the university,” Craig said. “To get to also meet coach (Brian) Kelly when you've seen him on TV and you've seen the Irish show that they have for Notre Dame, and I've watched the games. To meet him in person was just an unbelievable opportunity.
“The school is obviously beautiful. The campus and it has beautiful facilities. What's most important to me is the culture. I know that he'll be in a great place with great mentoring and great culture around other great students. The students are all articulate and very polite.”