With the 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season behind us, we can start to look towards the future. Next up in the grand scheme of things is spring football. This series will provide a quick look at all the position groups for Notre Dame football as we enter winter workouts, and spring practice.
Notre Dame was extremely well-balanced with its wide receiver production in 2018. The starting 3 WR’s in Chris Finke, Miles Boykin, and Chase Claypool accounted for 58% of all receptions, 62% of all receiving yards, and 60% of all receiving touchdowns. As starters that played in every game in 2018, their statistical differences were fairly small.
Having said that... Miles Boykin was the man. As much as Chris Finke would find himself running wild with no one around him, Boykin’s size made him an easy and a favorite target of Ian Book in the clutch.
Just as it was with the running backs, the wide receivers started to bloom once there was a change in the depth chart. After Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush in game 4, you really started to see this group produce much better and consistent results.
DEPARTURES FROM 2018
Notre Dame could have returned all of its wide receivers in 2019, but Miles Boykin chose to leave the Irish with a year of eligibility on the table (but with his degree). Boykin led the receivers with 59 receptions for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns.
There are two schools of thought here:
- Notre Dame will greatly miss a very productive and steady WR.
- Notre Dame needs more speed at WR than what Boykin offered.
I actually think both statements are true, but I will always lean towards wanting the leading receiver to return if it’s possible.
RETURNING FOR 2019
The Irish return quite a bit at wide receiver in 2019. Chris Finke and Chase Claypool are the most important of the bunch, and the most productive from 2018.
Returning WR Production From 2018
|83 Chase Claypool||13||50||639||12.78||4||35|
|10 Chris Finke||13||49||571||11.65||2||56|
|87 Michael Young||13||7||138||19.71||1||66|
|4 Kevin Austin||11||5||90||18||0||38|
One can naturally assume that Kevin Austin could and should slide into the slot left open by Miles Boykin, but Michael Young is another option that has produced some nice results as well. Young had the longest pass reception of the year with a 66 yard catch and run versus Wake Forest (although he was criticized for not finishing the run).
NEW ADDITIONS FOR 2019
Notre Dame signed 2 wide receivers for its 2019 recruiting class.
- 3-Star Cam Hart
- 3-Star Kendall Abdur-Rahman
While neither player will knock your socks off when watching their game film, they are quality football players. Abdur-Rahman has the speed and quickness that many covet, and has enough size to make it work well for him. Hart is a lot like Michael Young, but maybe not as explosive.
I think it’s safe to say that Notre Dame has a lot returning, but outside of Finke and Claypool, it’s difficult to know who will end up contributing to the offense. Here are names we haven’t even mentioned yet in this article:
- Braden Lenzy
- Lawrence Keys III
- Joe Wilkins Jr.
- Javon McKinley
- Isaiah Robertson
- Micah Jones
Four of those names were freshmen last season, and the entire group of them accounts for only 15 snaps (10 for Wilkins and 5 for McKinley). It’s not a stretch to say that after spring football, Notre Dame might be down one or two from that list due to a possible transfer.
So who steps up? With The return of Ian Book, Chris Finke, and Chase Claypool, the Irish have a strong core heading into 2019. The key though, is that we would like to see some more explosive plays from the position. That probably means that Notre Dame will need one of its sophomores (or two) to really step up into a role of “playmaker” on offense.
For the second year in a row, I think the Irish have a chance to be better at wide receiver than the year prior. It will come down to development via Del Alexander and Chip Long, and the work ethic from these young players. If Notre Dame gets its expected performances from Finke and Claypool, and then adds that extra element of speed with one or two of these guys, we could be looking at a banner year from this position.
RANDOM RANDOMNESS TO PONDER
Let me give this another try... Looking at you @UnderArmour & @NDFootball pic.twitter.com/R2Cph03n2j— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) January 22, 2019
How do you feel about Notre Dame’s WR situation in 2019?
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