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Petersburg cousins joined by blood, love of football

12/25/2015, 1:31 a.m.
When the next Prosise family reunion rolls around, football is likely to be the hot topic. Burly Prosise athletes figure ...

When the next Prosise family reunion rolls around, football is likely to be the hot topic.

Burly Prosise athletes figure heavily into the college gridiron reports as nearby as Ettrick and as far away as South Bend, Ind.

Ray Prosise Jr. is a powerful, 6-foot, 280-pound junior defensive lineman and electrical engineering major at Virginia State University.

C.J. Prosise, Ray’s first cousin, wears a gold helmet as the dashing junior tailback for the University of Notre Dame.

Their fathers, Ray Prosise Sr. and Calvin Prosise, are brothers.  

The 6-foot, 220-pound C.J. figures to be a key when the Fighting Irish face Ohio State University in the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

The Prosise cousins cut their football teeth in Petersburg recreation leagues.

Ray Jr. starred at Petersburg High, where he earned All-Central District honors. C.J.’s star rose at Woodberry Forest, a boarding school in Madison County.

“We’ve got a close bond as cousins,” said Ray Jr. “But we’ve never really played together on the same team.

“We do stay in touch … but last time we were together, same place, was for a family reunion (in Dinwiddie) two summers ago.”

Ray Jr. says he will watch the Fiesta Bowl on television with family members while VSU remains on winter holiday break.

C.J. rushed for 1,052 yards (an average of 6.6 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns in just 10 games this season for Notre Dame. He also caught 26 passes for another 308 yards and a touchdown.

He missed two games toward the end of the season with injuries — a concussion and a sprained ankle, but has announced he will be at top speed in Arizona.

A management consulting major, C.J. may return to college for his final season of eligibility in 2016, or he may enter the NFL draft. That decision could be determined by his performance in the Fiesta Bowl.

Before making any decision, he will consult with the NFL Draft Advisory Board (NFLDAB), a panel of NFL general managers, player personnel directors and scouts.

The NFLDAB helps college athletes determine whether it would be in their best interest to leave college early.

Last year, 147 underclassmen submitted their cases to the NFLDAB, with 76 declaring for the draft.

C.J. was recruited to Notre Dame primarily as a defensive back. After being red-shirted as a true freshman, he played wide receiver for two seasons before being converted to tailback this past fall.

He became an overnight sensation toting the pigskin.

Until his late-season ailments, he was on pace to challenge Notre Dame’s all-time, single-season rushing record of 1,437 set by Vagas Ferguson in 1979.

C.J. rushed for 155 yards in the Irish’s comeback win over the University of Virginia in Charlottesville earlier this season, and rambled for 198 yards, including a scintillating 91-yarder, in a victory against Georgia Tech.

Gifted with explosive athletic talent, C.J. won the Virginia Independent Schools State long jump for Woodberry Forest and was second in the state as a junior and senior racing in the 100 meters.