Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 21 Lorenzo Styles, early-enrolled freshman receiver

Lorenzo Styles 2021
Notre Dame Athletics
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ⅛, 186 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, Styles has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: If Styles first cracks the rotation at slot receiver, he will be behind fifth-year Avery Davis and senior Lawrence Keys, but after a couple transfers this summer, a void may exist behind senior Braden Lenzy at field receiver, and Styles’ traits very closely resemble Lenzy’s, which could provide some ease to rotating the pair.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect and the No. 6 receiver in the country, per rivals.com, Styles chose the Irish over his homestate Ohio State, along with Michigan, Penn State and Pittsburgh. His Notre Dame commitment lasted 14 months without wavering, somewhat surprising simply given his top-tier recruiting profile.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
This was a month before Styles could genuinely benefit from this photo, but going back and getting some free tacos now would be only logical.

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN STYLES SIGNED
“Styles has an underrated amount of strength in his frame, perhaps making him as much a field position possibility as a slot, the natural assumption when seeing a receiver weighing less than 175 pounds. In that respect, Styles’ 4.4-second 40-yard dash speed could set him up in the mold of current junior Braden Lenzy, though hopefully with more sturdy hamstrings. …

“Suggesting this three days before the No. 2 Irish face No. 3 Clemson with Lenzy back on the field may prove to be an embarrassingly poor take, but as long as Lenzy cannot stay available, then the role of outside speedster should be considered up for grabs. Enrolling early could give Styles a chance at making the most of Lenzy’s inconsistencies, though what spring practice will entail is to be determined.”

2021 OUTLOOK
Preseason practices will shed more light on Styles’ hopes of cracking the receiver rotation. Of him, Davis and Keys, the Irish are likely to incorporate only two at slot. The transfers of sophomores Jordan Johnson (to Central Florida) and Jay Brunelle (to Yale), though, leave a lack of depth on the outside. Moving Keys there would be a surprise, but Davis or Styles could contribute behind Lenzy.

If Notre Dame makes sure to get practice reps for one of them on the outside, either one, that will serve as an indication of early faith in Styles and an expectation for him to chip in. Irish head coach Brian Kelly is oft-criticized for not utilizing freshman receivers, but that is not entirely accurate. TJ Jones, Chris Brown, Will Fuller, Corey Robinson, Kevin Stepherson and Kevin Austin all played in at least 11 games, to name the highlights.

Jones cracked 300 yards with three touchdowns, and Stepherson outdid that with 462 and five scores, while Fuller averaged 26.7 yards on six catches. Brown’s greatest contribution remains well-remembered (50-yard gain at Oklahoma), Robinson’s towering frame provided red-zone worries for every opposing defense to fret over and Austin worked through age-old traits issues to make his only collegiate impressions to date.

Kelly uses freshmen when they can genuinely help. For further evidence, note tight end Michael Mayer and running back Chris Tyree in 2020.

Of those receivers, Styles may arrive the most complete package, perhaps aside from Stepherson, myriad off-field issues aside.

That depth alone may be needed for Notre Dame’s offense to find its footing in 2021. Austin has not played a season’s worth of snaps since his final year in high school in 2017; Lenzy’s hamstrings remain a tricky issue; Keys’ bumps and bruises have kept him off the field a few times throughout his career. Any one of those troubles returning could push Styles into a primary role.

And if not, then Irish special teams coordinator Brian Polian may have a use for Styles as a punt returner. Polian indicated in the spring that he had made sure to get Styles work at the position, and Notre Dame does not have an established piece there, walk-on Matt Salerno notwithstanding.

DOWN THE ROAD
Every projection of Styles suggests his future lies in the slot, but given the Irish penchant for multiple tight ends (or, supposedly, multiple running backs this season), the slot receiver does not get as many reps as his counterparts. Given Styles’ recruiting pedigree, the likelihood is Notre Dame will insist on getting him as many snaps as possible.

Whether at slot or somewhere on the outside, plenty of room will open up in the receivers room before long. Lenzy, Austin, Keys and Joe Wilkins are all entering their senior year, though they technically all have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Davis has two years remaining, but again, that hinges on the pandemic eligibility waiver.

Most of them will move on before long, turning the rotation over to the class of 2021, in which Styles is one of three four-star receivers.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played
No. 40 Drew White, fifth-year linebacker, three-year starter
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year kicker, using the pandemic exception
No. 38 Jason Onye, incoming and raw freshman defensive end
No. 37 Joshua Bryan, incoming freshman kicker
No. 35 Marist Liufau, junior Hawaiian linebacker
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, junior defensive end
No. 33 Shayne Simon, senior linebacker
No. 29 Matt Salerno, senior punt returner, walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, senior cornerback, possible nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, junior linebacker
No. 26 Clarence Lewis, sophomore cornerback, second-year starter
No. 25 Philip Riley, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, speedy sophomore running back
No. 24 Jack Kiser, junior linebacker, onetime pandemic hero
No. 23 Litchfield Ajavon, junior safety
No. 23 Kyren Williams, junior running back
No. 22 Logan Diggs, incoming freshman running back
No. 22 Chance Tucker, freshman cornerback