FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Fresh out of the shower, C.J. Prosise was asked if he had a few minutes for an interview.
His temporary handler and fellow rookie, left tackle George Fant, interjected.
“You’ve got to make it quick,” he said. “This guy is big time.”
Another rookie, running back Alex Collins, pretended to take photos on his phone.
This is what happens when a young, relatively unknown player breaks out in front of a nationally televised audience in an instant classic.
Prosise, a running back out of Notre Dame and third-round pick in April, had just helped the Seattle Seahawks upset the New England Patriots, 31-24, behind 17 rushes for 66 yards and team highs of seven catches and 87 receiving yards.
“For me, this was step one,” Prosise told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s what I would call it. This is not going to be a one-game thing. I’ve just got to be very consistent and keep it going. You can say it was a breakout game.”
No play was bigger than a 38-yard grab on a third-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter, which set up Seattle’s go-ahead field goal that would give it the lead it would never relinquish.
Prosise, who played wide receiver at Notre Dame before converting to running back, was lined up in the slot against linebacker Elandon Roberts in single man coverage. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, seeing the mismatch, lobbed a perfectly placed pass that Prosise hauled in before absorbing a big hit at the 2-yard line.
“He did it all tonight,” Wilson said later.
Prosise had struggled with hamstring and wrist injuries early in the season and missed out on early playing time. But now that he’s fully healthy, his versatile skill set showed that he could blossom into another dynamic and difficult-to-defend weapon for Seattle.
“Yeah, isn’t he something?” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Prosise in his post-game press conference. “He is a really good player. We’ve been just pumped up about him, the whole time. Ever since we had a chance, when we went into the draft, we wanted to get that guy, for exactly what you saw tonight.”
The Seahawks lined Prosise up in the backfield, set him in motion, drew up plays for him in the slot, and featured him outside the numbers. Using his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame and well-rounded skill set, Prosise could serve as Seattle’s utility man – almost like a raw version of do-it-all running back Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers – even when the injured Thomas Rawls returns to the lineup.
“You’ve got to find the right guys for roles like that,” Prosise said. “When a player can do all those things, it really helps the offense. But definitely the stuff that I learned at Notre Dame, being a receiver and a running back – that has been huge. It just makes us that much more dangerous.”
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.