The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have already finished an early signing day, concluded their season with a bowl win over the LSU Tigers, and wrapped up the final signing day. Now, it’s time to begin the transition to Spring Football. To prepare for that, we’re going to take a look at each positional group heading into spring. Early enrollees will be included in this, but signees who did not enroll early will not be included. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
- Micah Jones (FR)
- Jafar Armstrong (SO)
- Michael Young (SO)
- Chase Claypool (JR)
- Javon McKinley (JR)
- Miles Boykin (SR)
- Chris Finke (SR)
- Freddy Canteen (GS)
There’s no denying it.
Notre Dame’s passing game was just dreadful in 2017. Dropped passes, grounded throws, route miscommunications — these occurrences were much too common for the Irish. And now, going into 2018, Notre Dame looks to improve that passing game, without the aid of a very talented receiver in Equanimeous St. Brown.
Instead of St. Brown, Brian Kelly and Co. will likely look to Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool to lead the way. Boykin, of course, had a huge game against LSU in the Citrus Bowl, capped off with a incredible catch and run for the game-winning touchdown. Claypool, on the other hand, flashed brilliance over the course of the season (against Wake Forest, his statline read 9 receptions, 180 yards, and a touchdown) but was generally too inconsistent to be relied upon.
The talent of these two, though, is undeniable. Notre Dame should not be worried about having these two be the leaders of the receiving corps.
At the slot, Michael Young will presumably assume the starting role. This is by no means set in stone, but the way the staff has spoken of the sophomore, and the clear limitations of Chris Finke, make Young the most appealing option for this position. Helping his case, Young also proved his understanding of the game and prowess as a route runner against LSU when he found a goal line touchdown.
Everyone outside of these four receivers is much more of an unknown.
Javon McKinley had a ridiculous high school career, and has all the potential and physical ability to make an impact on the team. However, he has been oft-injured and historically has had questionable hands when he has been healthy. Jafar Armstrong received plenty of praise prior to the 2017 season, but didn’t see any subsequent playing time. How he could impact this team is anyone’s guess. Freddy Canteen showed little to be excited for last year, albeit with his opportunities being cut short due to injuries.
Finally, freshman early enrollee Micah Jones will likely be a solid contributor somewhere down the line with his impressive size and strength. However, that time is not guaranteed to come this year. It’s not out of the question — Notre Dame does occasionally employ frosh receivers — but it should not come as a surprise if he is given a year to develop in the weight room and learn the system.
Notre Dame’s passing game should take a step forward — or three — this year. There’s just no way it’s that bad in consecutive years... right?