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Offseason cheat sheet: Wide Receivers

Aug 20, 2013, 12:41 AM EDT

Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

Brian Kelly has worked hard at restocking the wide receiving corps. Since arriving in South Bend, Kelly did inherit some star power (see Floyd, Michael), but for the most part he was underwhelmed with the depth that existed on the roster he took over.

That’s not to say that Charlie Weis did a poor job recruiting wide receivers. It’s probably one of the positions he recruited best. But Weis never seemed to have enough bodies at the position, and one of Kelly’s first orders of business was to restock the shelves.

That hasn’t always been easy. Three players that started out at wide receiver, Bennett Jackson, Austin Collinsworth, and Matthias Farley, now roam the defensive backfield. Two more, Justin Ferguson and Davonte Neal, are now gone. And while the receiver position is the one spot that this staff hasn’t pulled a true blue-chipper, the depth chart is finally to a place where the passing game can take flight.


For the first time under Kelly, the Irish passing attack won’t focus on one leading man. That’s not to say that there isn’t a pecking order, with TJ Jones entering his final season and Davaris Daniels ready to take flight. But there’s a pretty big drop after that dynamic duo, though it’s a solid blend of youth and journeymen that should help the Irish have their most diversified aerial attack since Kelly took over.

After Jones and Daniels, how the Irish breakdown their reps should be very interesting. Will CJ Prosise be a true Z receiver or will Amir Carlisle get the majority of snaps in the slot? Can a freshman standout like Corey Robinson or James Onwualu do enough to help the offense from the start? Will Daniel Smith prove to be more than just a great blocker?

Talking with people around the program, there’s a ton of confidence that while this position group doesn’t have a ton of experience, there’s a lot of talent. With a diverse group of talents, that should help power the Irish offense forward, even after a difficult offseason.


Here’s a look at all the wide receivers on the roster, doing our best to incorporate the depth chart as well.

1. TJ Jones, Sr. #7
2. Davaris Daniels, Jr. #10
3. Chris Brown, Soph. #2
4. CJ Prosise, Soph. #20
5. Daniel Smith, Sr. #87
6. Corey Robinson, Fr. #88
7. James Onwualu, Fr. #17
8. Will Fuller, Fr. #15
9. Luke Massa, Sr. #14
10. Torii Hunter Jr., Fr. #16
11. Nick Fitzpatrick, Sr. #28
12. Eric Lee, Jr. #37
13. Gerald Martinez, Soph. #83
14. Josh Anderson, Soph. #46
15. Omar Hunter, Fr. #81


It might finally be saying something that the Irish could potentially go ten deep at the position this year, assuming a guy like Torii Hunter were healthy. But that we know so little about everyone minus Jones and Daniels is a scary proposition for Irish fans used to having a marquee talent playing on Saturday for the past decade.

That said, just because Jones and Daniels have flown under the radar doesn’t mean they can’t be national prospects. Both receivers were a silver lining in the Alabama game, playing well into the second half when the offense was all about throwing the ball. Expect both guys to have breakout seasons, with 1,000 yard upsides in an offense that could break loose after a modest ’12 output.

But the fun might exist what happens outside that duo. Will Chris Brown step in and play a role as a deep threat with a quarterback that hasn’t proven to be effective throwing down field? Will Corey Robinson be as impressive as he’s looked in practice videos? Can the Irish finally get some production out of the slot receiver position, perhaps proving Brian Kelly a genius of position switches again with the CJ Prosise experiment? Can a guy like Luke Massa carve out a niche in this offense, a big body type that’s more athletic than you think.

Just about everybody in the freshman class, with the exception of Hunter who is rehabbing an injury, looks like they’ll be able to contribute. If that happens is anyone’s guess, but the smart money has both Robinson and Onwualu playing from week one. Still, this looks like an offense that may have co-leading men, with the rest of the unit just hoping to fine a small supporting role.

  1. 25kgold - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:51 AM

    ND will have the best receiving corp. in the nation next year! (A pretty damn good one this year,too)

  2. notredameirish1980 - Aug 20, 2013 at 6:02 AM

    I find it interesting that ND has been unable to recruit (or keep) ‘blue chip’ talent at both wide receiver or cornerback, but it would appear that the players they have come and stayed are becoming much more than they were initially thought to be.

    • Hakuna Budi - Aug 20, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      I agree. This has been discussed elsewhere, but corners and wide outs coming out of high school are so full of themselves … ND takes some humility. Look at their two starting corners right now – both potential all americans and neither was recruited as a corner. Shows how BK and his staff can move guys around the way they need to. Go Irish!

  3. kiopta1 - Aug 20, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    Robinson and this year’s Brent are far better than most scouts had them pegged.

  4. 1historian - Aug 20, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Floyd and Eifert were both prime targets for opposing defenses to focus on. With this new group of receivers they won’t know who to focus on. This is a good thing.

    I disagree with those who say “woe is us – we don’t have a future1st round draft choice catching passes this year!”


  5. baldyscotsman - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    My biggest concern with this group is timing. DD and TJ i think will be able to get the timing with Tommy but i don’t know about the others. With tommy’s limitations there will need to be exceptional timing on slants and corner routes to cover up some of the physical limitations.

    They all need to be on the same page, and if they can this group can be special. If they can’t then there will be a lot of balls behind guys and possible turnovers.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      I’ll ignore the “limitations” B.S. and simply point out that tommy/timing and the receiving corp can only come with reps. It wouldn’t matter if he threw 100 mph like elway or a limp noodle like Coach Diaco the other day.

      It still comes down to reps. No matter who the QB is, the younger WRs are going to have less experience.

  6. bigconsig - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    James O has break out potential – an underused high school RB/Slot with high self-expectations and great work ethic. Think Wes Welker. His touch to TD ratio in high school was scary good.

  7. bernhtp - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    The catch anything capability of Floyd/Eifert was really important to Rees, especially on the deeper/sideline routes where Rees’ accuracy fades and the ball hangs up for a long time, allowing defenders to get there. Our guy needs to get up and win the fight for the ball. Robinson can help here. Chris Brown’s role as the deep post threat seems to diminish.

    • wisner74 - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      I absolutely agree with that. Rees relied very heavily on those two guys. They are tall, and great jumpers, who could regularly pull down the jump balls Rees sometime threw even when they were well covered. It would be nice to see if Daniels or someone else can prove to be that kind of bail-out receiver.

      We can always hope that Rees has become a better deep-ball passer, so maybe Chris Brown’s talent will be more evident this year.

      • bernhtp - Aug 20, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        Word from camp observers indicates that the arm is still a major limitation – no discernible improvement – where the strength is not only absent but the accuracy fades quickly with distance.

        Maybe Kelly should give Hendrix a situational play that causes a safety to move up to cover his (possible) read-option run and then throws the deep post to Brown or Carlisle out of the slot.

      • irishpuma - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:11 AM

        Newsflash….Tommy still has no arm…..#shocker…..way to go Bern you got Wisner to write something negative about Rees I love it. But Knute’s ghost and Keith both say TR has a hose this year and such added quickness and strength?????

        I believe in Bern and my own eyes and the last 4 years of experiences.

      • ibleedirish - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        “become a better deep-ball passer”? Dude, just stop with that already. If a kid can’t throw farther than 20 yards when he’s 19, he isn’t going to be do it when he’s 21 or 22 either. That’s just the way it is. Tommy is going to beat up on awful teams, he’s going to be effective against average teams, but when we can’t out muscle or out run the other team, he is going to struggle. Good teams are going to drop eight within 15-20 yrds of line of scrimmage and play on a very short field, just like they always have against Tommy. 9-3 would be a great season.

    • nudeman - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      Mild disagreement with calling Floyd a “catch everything” guy. He was famous for hauling in a circus catch, twisting, turning, and out-jumping 4 defenders, then dropping one laid right in his arms when he was all alone.

      Sun Bowl and Bowl Game agaisnt FSU. Two perfectly thrown passes from Rees for TDs that he just flat dropped.

      • baldyscotsman - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:23 PM


        I agree that MF had some mental lapses on those routine catches and then some crazy mental strength on the near-impossble catches. I am more confident that our recievers this year are more possesion receivers and so if Tommy throws a good ball they will come down with it. There may not be very much YAC but as long as they move the chains we should be good enough.

      • bernhtp - Aug 20, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        I recall those drops. He had a few uncharacteristic drops at the end of the season. Before that, he was extremely reliable.

        The catch-everything guy was a general statement about his career with emphasis on his speed, strength, size, and leaping ability. He literally manhandled and physically abused a number of corners that tried to cover him.

      • irishpuma - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:08 AM

        come on Nude Floyd dropped those like a big leaguer missing a changeup he was not used to a deep ball being thrown so slow in a loose spiral bordering on end over end lol

    • mbannon92 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:09 PM

      In the NC Game last year TJ and DD both had some impressive catches on jump balls or with defenders draped all over them, especially TJ. While neither are Floyd or Eifert in terms of size and jumping ability, they can definitely make catches in tight coverage and on bad balls.

  8. 25kgold - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    I’m so sick of this “Off-Season Cheat Sheet” stuff! That’s exactly why we’re one QB down this year! Let’s get the season started already! Go Irish Go!

  9. irishdodger - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Hey Keith, I’m hearing rumblings that Elijah Hood is going to reopen his commitment. Any confirmed reports on this?

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      Can’t be true. If it is, you know he’ll never go to Alabama. I think he already flushed his letter down the crimson commode.

    • kansasirish - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Per BR he HAS decommitted. I guess he’s afraid of competition. Puss!!

  10. jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Once upon a time there was a little NFL team down in Florida whose offense got all the headlines and whose defense was all but overlooked. Their D became known as the No Name Defense. The year? 1972. The team? The Miami Dolphins. Their record? Undefeated. The moral of the story? I hope we have a No Name Receiving Corps which flies under the radar while kicking ass and taking names on the way to an undefeated season.

    • baldyscotsman - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM


      I would love that and i think that is a possibility. i think our receivers will be good but the QB just needs to play within himself and not try to do too much. Everett got away with some things due to his athletic ability but Tommy just needs to be Tommy.


      • irishpuma - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:16 AM

        Tommy needs to be Tommy are you shittin me??????? That is the last person Tommy needs to be. He needs to be an all new improved version of himself.

  11. 25kgold - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    ***It’s Official****

    Elijah Hood decommits from ND! The word is he’s now looking at North Carolina.

  12. irishdodger - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    I’m sure Bama will now forgive him for flushing their recruiting letters down the toilet.

  13. idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Elijah Hood…pfft….what position was he going to fill this year?

    Turn off your 16 year old twitter feeds and focus. THE IRISH ARE COMING!

    • ibleedirish - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      WELL SAID!! Lets play ball!! The echoes are awake!!

  14. Hakuna Budi - Aug 20, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Can’t wait to see Prosise. I think he will be great. It’s his position to lose. Cover him – shouldn’t be a surprise when he shines this fall. Go Irish! #KeenanHall

    • mtflsmitty - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:28 AM

      Agreed, Budi. He’s big, fast, and smooth. I haven’t seen a single piece of video since the B&G game on CJP. But if his route running develops I think he may be extremely dangerous in space. AC is likely, assuming he can survive the next week and a half, to give him a run for snaps tho.

      Can’t wait. GO IRISH!

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