Craig Holmes and his wife Dawn Stanton-Holmes certainly influenced their son’s decision to commit to Notre Dame earlier this month, but they didn’t press him to choose the Irish.
Instead, they offered their support and wisdom in choosing a school with life after football as one of the most important factors.
“One of the things that we're most proud of is that in this decision it really was all about C.J.,” Craig said. “Obviously we loved the school. With that being said we really wanted him to really make the decision because he has to be there for four years and it's really about him. Of course we've given him a lot of input based on a lot of the schools that we visited. I think the greatest thing is the final decision, he made it himself.”
Athletically, Holmes comes from a strong gene pool.
His father played college basketball at South Central Community College while his mother earned all-America honors in the triple jump (1989 and 1990) and 1600-meter relay (1990) at Southern Connecticut State University.
Holmes, a 6-foot, 200-pound four-star athlete, committed to Notre Dame on July 8 over offers from Alabama, Michigan, Penn State and several others.
The Irish recruited him to play a role similar to the one filled by C.J. Prosise, a third round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2016 NFL Draft. Prosise enrolled as a defensive back, took a red-shirt, moved to wide receiver, then shifted to running back as a senior.
Filling Prosise’s shoes likely played a role in Holmes’ decision.
“It's funny, but I think God works in mysterious ways,” Craig said. “It's really interesting. They both have the same first initials. I think that kind of is special and it's interesting. He can step into C.J. Prosise’s footsteps and continue that tradition of C.J.s. They are very similar. C.J. Prosise played corner, played receiver and played tailback, so they are very similar in stature and as well as in their abilities.”
C.J. Holmes grew up playing five sports before eventually settling on football. He also played lacrosse, baseball, basketball and ran track as a child.
He showed promise on the football field at an early age.
“Getting him into football was probably my doing,” Craig said. “I coached him from Mighty Mites to Pee Wees. Not even looking at it from a parent's perspective but looking at it from a coach's perspective, you could kind of see that he was special even as a little kid. He obviously played running back, but it's funny because you know how kids evolve. C.J. played everything. He played running back and linebacker and defensive back. You could just tell there was something really special about him.”
In his final year of Pop Warner football, Holmes was his team’s starting running back, linebacker, punt returner and kickoff returner. He even punted the football.
“The kid did it all,” Craig said. “He's just a special athlete. We kind of knew but we're a humble family. We don’t' do cockiness at all. As a parent, maybe I saw it coming but it's unbelievable to be here now and competing with some of the top kids in the country.”
Scout.com ranks Holmes as the 204th best prospect in the recruiting class of 2017.