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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Fall Camp Preview | Wide Receiver

July 25, 2022
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We didn’t learn a lot about the receivers during spring ball. How could we with the numbers they had at the positions?

They’ll have more reinforcements in fall camp, but may be a bit limited to start. The important part will be the competition by the end of camp heading into the season opener.

The top priority is to find “the guy” at boundary receiver.

Joe Wilkins is someone who would have been competing there and likely will when he’s healthy, but how much we see of him in August is unclear. That means there is a great opportunity for Deion Colzie to win the job.

Colzie showed a lot of promise as a freshman in practices, but didn’t play a ton in the fall. He missed one of the open practices and didn’t make a big splash in the spring game to get the fans excited about his potential. That’s an unfair reaction by some, especially when you consider the quarterback play that day, but it definitely left people wanting to see more from the sophomore wide out.

They need someone to be a contested catch threat on the outside and Colzie has the potential to be that guy.

Tobias Merriweather has that same kind of potential and if Colzie isn’t ready to make that step forward, Merriweather might be. He only arrived in June so he didn’t have the benefit of being on campus as an early enrollee, but that doesn’t preclude him from making a big impact as a freshman. It didn’t stop Mayer, Chris Tyree, or Kyle Hamilton.

It’s rare for a freshman receiver to hit the ground running in fall camp. We’ll see if Merriweather can be an exception.

Lorenzo Styles Jr. wasn’t an exception to start last season, but maybe he should have been. He took off as a playmaker in the back half of the season and had a monster performance against Oklahoma State.

Is he going to play primarily outside or mix it up in the slot? He might be someone they move around to get matchups if he shows he’s ready to be a WR1 in camp. Styles is arguably the most important player on offense this fall not named Tyler Buchner. It would be a great sign if people are buzzing about Styles before the Ohio State game.

One player who hasn’t generated much buzz in a while is Braden Lenzy. He looked like a budding star after the 2019 season, but injuries ruined his 2020 campaign and though he was a starter last fall, he didn’t emerge as a big play threat.

This is his last shot to be that and it would be a massive development if he ends up making a number of big plays in camp. The Irish need as many big play threats as possible and Lenzy is one of the few who have produced those on Saturdays.

If we knew he was fully healthy, I think that there would be more talk about Avery Davis having a TJ Jones-ish final year bump. He might be eased into camp, though, because his presence will be needed in week one against Ohio State. It’s hard to predict how much we’ll see of Davis, but my guess is that his workload will increase later in camp and he’ll have re-established his role as a key player for the offense.

Davis’ status and the fact that the staff won’t be giving an overload of reps to a guy coming off an ACL injury should allow for former walk-on Matt Salerno to see a lot of snaps in camp. It’s a chance for him to prove he can provide depth. There won’t be anyone expecting him to play a big role during the season, but if he can play a role in some capacity, it would be very helpful for a group that could be thin with one or two injuries.

One of the most intriguing skill players to watch will be Jayden Thomas. At the beginning of spring he was a forgotten man and then after a couple of nice flashes in the Blue-Gold game, people were interested in whether he could enter the mix. With the numbers the way they are, he should see plenty of action and the more plays he makes, the more he’ll force himself into the conversation.

Wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey has to help some young players ascend quickly and has to hope he has better injury luck than he had in the spring. His group of receivers doesn’t lack talent, but this Notre Dame offense needs that talent to blossom early.

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