JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: James White’s Super Bowl performance is a reminder of what C.J. Prosise can give the Seahawks

Feb 7, 2017, 2:28 PM
C.J. Prosise averaged more than 8 yards per touch as a rookie but only played in six games. (AP)...
C.J. Prosise averaged more than 8 yards per touch as a rookie but only played in six games. (AP)
(AP)

It’s pretty hard to argue against Tom Brady being named the MVP of Super Bowl LI. He led the greatest comeback in the game’s history.

But a case could have been made for James White instead after he scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner. White is the Patriots’ third option at running back. He’s also one of the team’s smaller players at 5 feet 10 and 205 pounds. But he’s an important piece of New England’s offense.

He plays the Shane Vereen role as the pass catcher. Bill Belichick loves having the option of a pass-catching halfback capable of grabbing 60 or 70 receptions a year. Vereen caught 62 in 2012 and 96 in 2014. White caught 40 in 2015 and 60 this past season. In the Super Bowl, he caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.

The reason I bring up James White is that C.J. Prosise could be the Seahawks’ version of him and more.

Prosise can run. He can catch. He’s explosive. What you also like about him is his size. He’s 6-1 and 220, plenty big to handle power running plays. Unfortunately, injuries held him down not only during his rookie season but also in OTAs and in training camp.

What makes his potential so valuable to the Seahawks is the options he can create. Prosise was a wide receiver at Notre Dame before converting to running back for his final college season. From the backfield or flanked outside, Prosise has no problem figuring out the route trees because of his experience as a receiver. Plus, he has the speed and the ability to run fly sweeps and creative running plays.

The preview of future coming attractions came in Seattle’s 31-24 victory over New England in November. Prosise caught seven passes for 87 yards and carried 17 times for 66 yards.

It’s not as though Prosise will be expected to get 24 touches in a game. Pete Carroll’s plan is to run the ball first. Thomas Rawls is expected to be the No. 1 back and the power runner. His only problem is being available every week. Injuries have plagued him the first two years of his career.

The Seahawks could find a powerful back in the draft to challenge Rawls for early-down carries. What they won’t have to look for is the pass-catching back. All they have to do is find ways to keep Prosise healthy and on the field.

If you go back in Carroll’s college history, he’s done well with two backs. In the mid-2000s, he had Reggie Bush as his versatile runner and LenDale White as the pure runner. In 2005, for example, Bush had 200 carries for 1,740 yards and caught 37 passes for 478. White had 197 attempts for 1,302 yards and 14 catches for 219.

Rawls would fit the White job description. Prosise would fit the Bush role.

Last year, the Seahawks were 18th in the league with a 39.8 percentage in running the football and passed 60.2 percent of the time. They had 206 more pass plays than run plays. In 2014, the Seahawks ranked second with a 51.4 running percentage.

Times have changed. The NFL continues to push more to the pass. No team ran the ball on more than 50 percent of its plays last season. Sometimes, though, a short pass to a running back could be considered an extension of the running game.

Tom Brady sure did that with James White in the Super Bowl. If Prosise is healthy, Russell Wilson can use him in the same way.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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Clayton: James White’s Super Bowl performance is a reminder of what C.J. Prosise can give the Seahawks