SALINE – CJ Carr will always see himself as a Michigan man.
But despite being the grandson of legendary Michigan football head coach Lloyd Carr and his parents Jason and Tammi, both being Michigan graduates, CJ always envisioned creating his own path.
The path will now be built in South Bend, Indiana at the University of Notre Dame.
CJ, a 5-star quarterback from Saline, announced his commitment to play for the Fighting Irish on Thursday in front of his grandfather, parents, family, friends and teammates who watched him blossom into one of the most coveted passers in the nation.
Even though he understands his commitment will come as a shock to some diehard Wolverine fans, CJ said he felt Notre Dame was the place he was meant to be.
“I went over for a spring visit, and it was just different,” he said. “I hadn’t been anywhere like it. I fell in love with the campus, the culture and really everything Notre Dame.”
CJ said he didn’t have intentions on playing close to home and that ultimately led him to a school just under three hours southwest of his hometown.
“I never wanted to go to school close to my hometown,” CJ said. “I kind of wanted to branch out a little bit and Notre Dame was the perfect place. It’s just always been like that. I remember mentioning to my dad a while ago like, ‘Wow, you went to the same school that you grew up in?’ It was never really appealing to me, honestly.”
After the ceremony, CJ took a photo with grandfather and put his Notre Dame hat on Lloyd’s head. Lloyd quickly took it off and jokingly said, ‘That will take time.’ But moments later after a couple laughs, Lloyd grabbed the hat again and wore it as two hugged and smiled.
“I’ll always love Michigan, but this is family,” Lloyd said. “I’m happy because he’s happy.”
Lloyd said he too was a bit surprised when he first realized CJ might not choose Michigan, but quickly gave his support.
He added that even though the Michigan fans might be disappointed, he hopes they’ll understand CJ’s decision.
“Probably like a lot of Michigan fans, I just expected him to go to Michigan,” he said. “I think the Michigan fanbase will understand that it’s his choice. He’s following his dream and I think they’ll understand that, but there will be those who don’t”
Given his connection to UM, there were expectations that once Michigan offered in February of 2021, that it would be all but a done deal that CJ would suit up for the Wolverines one day.
But then came the offer from Notre Dame four months later, and from that point on, the Fighting Irish were essentially the front runner.
No matter where CJ and his parents traveled – they took visits to Georgia, Wisconsin, Miami, among others – CJ always had Notre Dame on his mind, so much so that he says he could have committed as early as March.
“My dad didn’t want to rush into a decision,” he said. “I had known back in the spring that I wanted to go to Notre Dame, so we really were just waiting to see what else was out there and look at some other places. After being everywhere, there’s no place like South Bend.”
For Jason, he wanted to make sure CJ took his time before deciding. And throughout the process, Notre Dame was always the No. 1 option.
“He’s been saying it for six or seven months,” Jason said. “I was trying to really say, ‘Hey, this is a process. You’ve got to make sure you look everywhere because there may be places that change your mind.’
“But everywhere we went, it was good, but he would say, ‘I’m going to Notre Dame.’ He’s been adamant and has not wavered at all. We finally reached the point where if it’s going to be Notre Dame, it’s going to be Notre Dame.”
There was no pushback from the Carr family when CJ alerted them of his aspirations.
“It’s a tough path to choose a school for this family that isn’t Michigan,” Tammi said. “He’s the kind of kid that wants to blaze his own trail and he’s always wanted to go away from home. We told him we would be supportive, and we are. We are really excited for his future.”
CJ thanked his family for being supportive in a decision that not everyone will understand.
“With the Michigan ties, you would assume that they’re really trying to persuade me to go one place, but they’ve never done that,” CJ said. “Whether it was my grandpa, my mom or my dad, they were always supportive of where I wanted to go.”
There are still two years left of high school before CJ can play for Notre Dame, but he said he’s fully committed and is ready to help with recruiting for the 2024 class.
And even though his path will not lead him to the Big House on Saturdays in the fall, it doesn’t mean he will lose his love for a school that is connected to his family.
“Michigan will always hold a special place in my heart,” CJ said. “My grandpa coached there, my dad and my mom went there. I’ll always be a Michigan man and hometown is Michigan. But I’m really excited to be a part of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now.”
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