As the Notre Dame coaches draw up a plan for the 2006 recruiting class, it's obvious that the running back position will be a priority. The need to find a top-flight running back for the 2006 class, who will be able to step in and contribute right away, was magnified when the Irish failed to sign a running back in the 2005 recruiting class.
If you look at the 2006 depth chart, the running back situation looks even more precarious. For the 2006 season, Jeff Jenkins will be an option if he seeks a fifth year of eligibility. To date, Jenkins has logged 8:20 of playing time and carried the ball nine times. Travis Thomas is another back that hasn't establish himself so far--he will only have two years of eligibility remaining. Darius Walker will likely be in the workhorse, but he will only have two years remaining since he played as a true freshman in 2004. The only other option Notre Dame will have at running back is Justin Hoskins, and he may be better suited for slot back or cornerback-–and he'll only have two years of eligibility remaining once the class of 2006 reports for duty.
With the possibility of only three options at running back, the opportunity for playing time has to be attractive for any high school running back. One player that the Notre Dame coaches are going to recruit heavily is C.J. Gable (6-1, 190 pounds) out of Sylmar, Calif.
When Gable initially started playing football, it really didn't go quite as he had imagined.
"I started playing football when I was six or seven. I wasn't much bigger than the other kids, but my coaches played me on the offensive and defensive line," Gable said. "I really wanted to play running back, but my coaches just brushed me off. I was fine playing offensive line -- I was just happy to be playing. In seventh grade, I was moved to linebacker and fullback.
"Then in ninth grade I got my chance. I started out at wide receiver, but the first couple games we didn't score much, so my coaches gave me a shot at running back."
As they say--the rest is history. Gable has started at running back ever since, while racking up huge stats. Last year Gable rushed for 2,026 yards on 180 carries and a staggering 27 touchdowns.
I hadn't seen film on this southern California star, so I asked him to describe himself as a player.
"I can do everything. I can run, block or catch; I'll do special teams, whatever. I just want to be out there playing," Gable said.
"If I had to pick a player to describe my style, I think I'm similar to Reggie Bush. I can run around you or I can run through you if I have to."Running between the tackles doesn't bother me, but I do like to run to the outside." Gable added, "I almost always get to the corner before the linebacker. When I do that, good things happen."
While Notre Dame would love to add Gable to the Irish roster, it certainly won't be easy. C.J. is being recruited by nearly every program from across the country.
"Notre Dame, USC, UCLA are recruiting me. Actually the entire PAC-10 is recruiting me," said Gable. "Syracuse, Oklahoma, Miami, Colorado, Colorado State, Nebraska, Michigan.
"USC, UCLA and Cal have offered," added Gable.
Well that's certainly the big boys. How about his interest in Notre Dame?
"I like Notre Dame. I've actually liked them since I was little," Gable said.
The obvious question to me was, "How does a kid from Southern California end up rooting for a team in Indiana?"
"I always wanted to be a running back, even when they had me at offensive line, and my favorite player was Jerome Bettis," Gable explained. "I wanted to be just like him, so I looked up where he went to school. I found out he went to Notre Dame and I said. ‘I want to go there.'
"Notre Dame started recruiting me, so I started looking into it more. I looked up their graduation rates for athletes and that appealed to me. I want to be an architect and they have that major."
With the top programs in the country chasing Gable, I asked him if he had a top five or ten at this time.
"Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma, Miami and Syracuse would be my top five." Gable responded.
Does he have a leader?
"Notre Dame" he replied.
With four teams in his top five being so far from home, we asked Gable if his mom would mind him being that far from home.
"Well, she would like me to stay close to home, but she would understand if I went away," Gable said.
Gable also has a younger brother that also plays football. I asked if he was a running back and if he was as good as his older brother.
"The coaches have him at fullback" Gable said with a chuckle. "He's good though. He's going to be better than me."
Gable also said he currently has a 3.0 G.P.A. and plans on taking the SAT in March.
Comments: It's impossible not to like C.J. Gable. He's definitely a Notre Dame kid. As for football, he certainly fits the mold of a primetime running back, and Notre Dame will need one in this class. He does like Notre Dame and they will have a very good shot at landing him, but there is a long way to go before he ends his recruitment. You can be sure that USC isn't going to let Notre Dame walk into their backyard and take one of the best players in the country without a battle.