One of its seeming breakthroughs this preseason, Notre Dame will lose junior receiver Michael Young to an intended transfer, per reports. Young shined both in the spring and in early August before breaking his collarbone two weeks before the year began. That injury kept him out of the season’s first three games, meaning he can preserve this season of eligibility with the transfer.
Irish Illustrated first reported Young’s plans.
Young’s move comes as a shock not because of the transfer, but because of the timing. He has played in only three games; he could play in one more before losing the season of eligibility. Granted, that would include risking injury, and if his mind is made up, then that is an unnecessary risk, but given the nature of this weekend’s matchup at No. 19 Michigan (7:30 ET; ABC), the gamble may have been worth it.
Instead, Young will reportedly sit out this weekend and transfer after graduating this spring, making him immediately eligible wherever he ends up with two years left to play.
Young finishes the season with six catches for 21 yards and two kickoff returns for 48 yards. His initial return from the collarbone injury was promising enough, catching three passes for 19 yards against Virginia, but the following two weeks totaled three receptions for two yards as Young was passed in the rotation by sophomore Braden Lenzy.
RELATED READING: Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 87 Michael Young
That depth chart reality presumably spurred this decision. After a concussion sidelined Lenzy at Georgia and against Virginia, he has finally had the impact long expected of such a high-profile recruit. His two receptions for 13 yards the last two games underscore his impact, supplemented by a 51-yard touchdown run against USC. Lenzy’s 155 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns this season nearly match Young’s three years totals of 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Lenzy’s role in Notre Dame’s offense is only growing — the same can be said, with less tangible evidence, of sophomore Lawrence Keys, as well — and that has come at Young’s expense this season. When Lenzy took the field against the Trojans, it was usually in place of Young.
“I’ve always felt from a formational standpoint, you need to have some different looks and move guys around,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Monday of his receiver rotation. “If you’re asking me would we like to have one guy out there that has solidified a position? Maybe, but we have been able to use a lot of young guys, and they’ve all been able to mature this year to the level where we’ve gotten some pretty good production out of them.”
Now that switch becomes permanent. Come 2020, Lenzy is suddenly a front-runner for a starting role along the currently-silently-suspended Kevin Austin.
ON FRIDAY AT 4
This space was going to use its usual late-week slot to review the preseason’s “Counting Down the Irish” rankings. That will now (likely) appear late Saturday morning or early next week. But in that spirit, Young was slotted at No. 21 among the projected most-impactful Notre Dame players back in August. Of course, his collarbone injury changed that likelihood, but nine games should still have been enough time to justify those expectations.
Know who did not receive a single vote? Lenzy.