We’ve had plenty of discussion this past week about Notre Dame receivers, how to recruit them, and how to use them once they get to South Bend. It’s a complicated issue that has multiple sides, and there’s a lot of truth in many of those sides. It got me thinking about other “top wide receivers” that came to Notre Dame —specifically the highest rated WR’s since 2005. (All rankings come via the 247 Composite).
I was curious about how they were used as freshmen, and how they did in their final year at Notre Dame. As my memory bank got knocked around, I could only laugh at the thought of “final year at Notre Dame.”
We’ll get into that shortly. Before I do, I just want to make it clear that this exercise is out to prove or disprove any opinions out there. It was just a question that I asked myself, and I decided to share it with you.
So let’s go...
2005 — 4-Star D.J. Hord
Hord was the crown jewel of the 2005 recruiting class — a class that was ranked #39 in the country. He appeared in 6 games as a freshmen and became a starter at kick returner. He returned 7 kicks for 123 yards.
After a 2006 season with no action, Hord returned in 2007 to catch 2 passes for 7 yards in 6 games. He transferred to Northern Iowa at the end of the 2007 season.
2006 — 4-Star Richard Jackson
Richard Jackson saw redshirts, injuries, and a depth chart weighing down on him. He never recorded a down at Notre Dame, but transferred to play for the UCF Knights in 2008 where he was eligible by the 3rd game of the year. He played in 7 games and caught 2 passes for 32 yards. Jackson didn’t play past the 2008 season.
2007 — 5-Star Duval Kamara
Kamara broke out onto the scene his freshman year with 32 receptions for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was his best season of his 4 years in South Bend. In his final year, Kamara caught 3 touchdowns, but only had 112 yards all year, and he did not join the team for their Sun Bowl game.
2008 — 5-Star Michael Floyd
Michael Floyd is the gold standard at Notre Dame as far as what to get from the best receiver in a recruiting class. He made an instant impact as a freshman with 48 receptions for 719 yards and 7 touchdowns. By the time Floyd left Notre Dame, he became (and still is) the career leader in receptions (271), receiving yards (3686), and receiving touchdowns (37).
2009 — 4-Star Shaq Evans
Shaq Evans played in 6 games his freshman year and caught 6 balls for 61 yards. In 2010 he transferred to play for the UCLA Bruins where in three seasons he racked up almost 1900 yards and 14 touchdowns.
2010 — 4-Star T.J. Jones
Jones played right away as a freshman, and saw meaningful time in 12 games in which he caught 23 passes for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns. After four years with the program, Jones is among the all-time leaders in multiple receiving categories — including 2nd all-time in receptions (181). In all, T.J. racked up 2429 yards and 19 touchdowns. He will likely be one of the most underrated Irish receivers in hostory.
2011 — 4-Star DaVaris Daniels
Daniels redshirted his freshman year, but had a strong showing in his sophomore season with 31 receptions for 490 yards. The next year in 2013, Daniels improved even more with 49 receptions for 745 yards and 7 touchdowns. Daniels was suspended the following spring for academic reasons, and then was suspended again before the 2014 season along with 4 other players in a cheating scandal. He never played for Notre Dame again.
2012 — 4-Star DaVonte’ Neal
After one of the strangest non-signing day ceremonies, Davonte’ Neal earned a niche spot as a freshman and appeared in 13 games in 2012. He returned 21 punts for 46 yards. In 2013 Neal transferred to Arizona and played one year at receiver in 2014, and then was moved to cornerback for his final two years.
2013 — 4-Star Torii Hunter Jr.
Hunter suffered a major leg injury before he even arrived at Notre Dame which eventually forced him to redshirt as a freshman. In his sophomore year, Hunter only played in 5 games and had 7 receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. Injuries plagued him his entire career, but in 26 games he still managed to pull in 73 passes for 949 yards and 6 touchdowns.
2014 — 4-Star Justin Brent
Brent played in 9 games as a freshman — pretty much all on special teams. He was redshirted his sophomore year as he was moved to running back, and then transferred to Nevada where he eventually switched to defense. Brent also played basketball for Nevada.
2015 — 4-Star Equanimeous St. Brown
St. Brown only saw action in 7 games and tallied 1 reception for 8 yards. He did, however, have a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown against the USC Trojans. St. Brown became a starter over the next two seasons tallying 91 receptions for 1476 yards and 13 touchdowns. He left a year of eligibility on the table to enter the NFL Draft in 2018.
2016 — 4-Star Javon McKinley
McKinley saw action in 4 games as a freshman in 2016, but missed the 2017 season with an injury. He didn’t catch his first pass at Notre Dame until 2019, and in his final year in 2020, he lead the team with 42 receptions for 717 yards and 3 touchdowns.
2017 — 3-Star Jafar Armstrong
Armstrong didn’t see any action in 2017 and was moved to running back in 2018. He was the starter at RB to begin the 18 season, but injuries and Dexter Williams saw his role diminish as the season continued. Another injury in the first game of 2019 set Armstrong back even more, and in 2020 he played a very minimal role. He leaves Notre Dame with 807 total yards and 9 touchdowns. He announced his transfer to Illinois in the winter of 2021.
2018 — 4-Star Kevin Austin
As a freshman in 2018, Austin saw action in 11 games and had 5 receptions for 90 yards. Austin didn’t play in any games in 2019 (an in-house suspension), and suffered an injury in fall camp of 2020 that kept him sidelined for most of the year. He caught one pass for 18 yards against Louisville.
2019 — 3-Star Kendall Abdur-Rahman & 3-Star Cam Hart
Here are two players instead of one because of circumstance. Abdur-Rahman started his career at receiver but was also moved to running back — and this past winter he transferred to Western Kentucky. Cam Hart was moved to cornerback and is battling to be a starter in 2021.
2020 — 4-Star Jordan Johnson
Johnson played in 2 games in 2020 and after spring football, he announced that he was entering the transfer portal.