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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Roster Review | Wide Receiver

February 28, 2024
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What a difference a year makes.

At this same time in 2023, Notre Dame had Lorenzo Styles looking to bounce back from his struggles the previous season, were hoping Tobias Merriweather could become a breakout star, and had moved Chris Tyree from running back. They also had early enrollees Rico Flores and Braylon James on campus who were projected to be big parts of the future at receiver for the Irish.

Those players are all gone and Mike Brown has replaced Chansi Stuckey as receivers coach. The staff has retooled the position with three transfers, some talented freshmen, and promising players returning.

They have more bodies to compete there, which is a very good thing. Who will be the main playmakers this fall is yet to be determined, but at least Notre Dame has more options who could lead the way this fall.

Total snaps returning

Notre Dame is bringing back 818 total snaps at the position, which is surprisingly good with three contributors transferring.

Jayden Thomas missed two games and played at least a couple of others on one good hamstring, but still played 304 snaps last season. Jaden Greathouse also dealt with a hamstring injury and managed to play 298 as a true freshman.

Jordan Faison didn’t see his first action until the Louisville game and still finished with 150 snaps. He played a season high 38 snaps in the bowl game.

Deion Colzie only played 66 due to an injury and took a redshirt. He played in the first four games and then didn’t play again until the bowl game.

KK Smith missed most of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, but got in during garbage time against Oregon State.

86% of Faison’s snaps were with him aligned in the slot.

Over 90% of Greathouse’s snaps were from the slot in the first five games, but he they moved him out wide after that with only 17 in the slot coming after the Ohio State game.

Thomas played either in the slot or in-line over ⅔ of the time in 2022. He played only 26 snaps there last fall.

Notable returning production

Thomas had 22 targets before he tweaked his hamstring for the second time against Louisville. He had only eight the rest of the season, five of which came in the bowl game. He averaged 14.8 yards per reception and looked good running after the catch when healthy.

Greathouse and Faison each had nice rookie seasons in limited opportunities. Greathouse led the team with five touchdown receptions and Faison was second with four.

Four of Greathouse’s five touchdowns were with him working out of the slot and he averaged 17.3 yards per reception there.

Three of Faison’s four touchdowns came against man coverage. He dominated against man-to-man with nine catches on 10 targets for 140 yards.

Additions

Logan Saldate is enrolling this summer as a freshman.

Beaux Collins is also enrolling then as a graduate transfer after being a multi-year starter at Clemson. He’s a good option on the boundary and caught nine of 16 contested targets last fall.

Kris Mitchell is already on campus as a transfer from Florida International. He finished fourth in PFF’s grading for deep ball targets in 2023. He averaged 17.5 yards per reception and his 1,118 yards were a single-season school record.

Jayden Harrison is also at Notre Dame after transferring from Marshall. An All-American kick returner with three career return touchdowns, he also had 27 catches and was second on the team in targets last season. He also averaged 7.7 yards after the catch per reception.

Freshmen Cam Williams and Micah Gilbert are already on campus and will compete this spring as well. Both should get a fair amount of reps this spring. Williams might be the most talented receiver the Irish have signed in over a decade.

Spring competition

It’s going to be interesting to see how Mike Brown and Mike Denbrock approach the receiver configuration.

Denbrock had two players at LSU, Malik Nabers and Kyren Lacy, who were pretty close to a 50/50 split between playing in the slot and out wide. He also uses a lot of pre-snap motion, so there will be players shifting frequently.

Faison worked primarily out of the slot, but with Greathouse and Thomas both a fit there as well, how often they line up there this spring is something to monitor. Both of them also played the boundary in 2023, but neither shined.

With Colzie and Gilbert likely competing at the boundary this spring and Collins entering the chat in the summer, it seems like they will move Greathouse and Thomas around to work at multiple spots.

Mitchell, Smith, Harrison, and Williams are the likely field receivers. The key piece they all have in common is speed, which Denbrock utilized often when he had Will Fuller there back in 2015.

There’s a lot to work out at the position and it should be very competitive. It’s fair to say that the receivers were mostly dominated by the corners during spring ball last year and seeing how this group performs against the Irish corners this year should give us an indication of how good they can be in the fall.

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