April 30, 2016
CHICAGO - Two University of Notre Dame players were selected in the third round of the 2016 National Football League Draft Friday evening at the Auditorium Theater.
Cornerback KeiVarae Russell was selected with the 74th overall pick (11th choice of round three) by the Kansas City Chiefs and running back C.J. Prosise was selected with the 90th overall pick (27th choice of round two) by the Seattle Seahawks.
Russell is the highest-drafted cornerback from Notre Dame since Bobby Taylor was the 50th overall selection by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1995 draft. Russell is the fifth-highest drafted cornerback in school history. Todd Lyght was selected with the fifth pick of the 1991 NFL Draft, Luther Bradley was selected with the 11th pick of the 1978 NFL Draft and Tom Carter was the 17th overall selection of the 1993 NFL Draft.
Russell is the seventh cornerback in school history to be taken in the first three rounds of the NFL draft and first since Allen Rossum in 2013. In addition to Taylor, Lyght, Bradley, Carter and Rossum, one other Irish cornerback was chosen in the top three rounds. The third-round selection was Willie Clark (82nd overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1994).
Russell started 37 games over his three-year Irish career. He finished his career with 169 tackles, 125 solo stops, 19 passes defended, seven tackles for loss, five interceptions, one and a half sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Russell becomes the 16th Notre Dame player ever drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and first since Jordan Black in the fifth round of the 2003 draft.
Prosise is the highest-drafted running back from Notre Dame since Julius Jones was the 43rd overall selection by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2004 draft.
Prosise is the 22nd running back in school history to be taken in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. In addition to Prosise and Jones, 20 other Irish running backs have been chosen in the top three rounds. The first-round selections include Jerome Bettis (10th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1993), Greg Bell (26th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1984), Vagas Ferguson (25th overall by the New England Patriots in 1980), Nick Pietrosante (sixth overall by the Detroit Lions in 1959), Paul Hornung (first overall by the Green Bay Packers in 1957), Joe Heap (eighth overall by the New York Giants in 1955), Johnny Lattner (seventh overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1954), Neil Worden (ninth overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1954) and Emil Sitko (10th overall by the Cleveland Rams in 1946).
Prosise started 18 games over his 37-game, three-year career. He rushed for 1,158 yards and 12 TDs (averaged 7.0 yards per carry) over his career. Prosise also caught 62 passes for 896 yards and three TDs.
In 2015, Prosise led the Irish in carries (156), rushing yards (1,032), rushing TDs (11) and rushing yards per game (93.8). He ranked fifth on the team with 26 receptions and 308 receiving yards (one TD catch). His 1,032 rushing yards were the most by a Notre Dame running back since Cierre Wood ran for 1,102 yards in 2011 and 17th-most in single-season school history.
Prosise, the 11th running back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season, needed just 150 carries to become the second-fastest player to Irish history to gain 1,000 yards in a season. He eclipsed the 100-yard rushing barrier in six of the eight games where he received a majority of the snaps at running back. Prosise registered 50 offensive plays of at least 10 yards during the regular season --- only six players nationally averaged more than his 5.0 10-plus yard plays per game from scrimmage. Despite missing the majority of two games in which he did play and two other games entirely, Prosise ranked ninth in the FBS in yards per carry (6.62), 40th in rushing yards per game (93.8), 40th in all-purpose yards per game (121.82), 46th in rushing TDs (11), 59th in rushing yards (1,032) and 109th in scoring (6.5 per game).
Prosise becomes the ninth Notre Dame player ever drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and first since Golden Tate in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Russell and Prosise continue a trend that has followed Irish head coach Brian Kelly at his previous coaching stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. They joined the Notre Dame program as a running back and safety, respectively. Russell was converted to a cornerback during preseason camp of his freshman year, while Prosise spent his freshman campaign on defense, then played two seasons at wide receiver and one at running back.
Russell and Prosise join the likes of Bennett Jackson and Troy Niklas of Notre Dame, Joe Staley from Central Michigan and Jason Kelce and Connor Barwin from Cincinnati. All seven opened their respective careers under Kelly at one position before ultimately getting drafted into the NFL at another position. Staley was a first-round choice in 2007, while Barwin (2009) and Niklas (2014) were second-round picks, Russell (2016) and Prosise (2016) were third-round selections and Kelce (2011) and Jackson (2014) were sixth-round picks.