top of page

Athletic, Yet Inexperienced: The Story of the Notre Dame Receiving Core

By Liam Farrell|Writer|Twitter @LiamFarrell_IT

Via James Gilbert/Getty Images


As the calendar is fast approaching the month of August, many college football fans are starting to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of their respective teams. Across many Notre Dame twitter threads and message boards, the biggest question mark that most fans have is within the Notre Dame receiving core. "How will Sam Hartman be useful if he can't throw the ball to anyone?" is the major gist of many of these discussions. Yes, the Irish don't have Mr. Reliable, a.k.a. Michael Mayer, to bail the offense out if no option is open; however, this sense of unknown might actually work in the Irish' favor. With so many young options awaiting to burst onto the scene, let's dig deep into the receiving unit in South Bend.


Jump-Ball Trio

Via USA TODAY Sports


During his time at Wake Forest, Sam Hartman's favorite target was A.T. Perry, who was a tall, physical receiver who made 50/50 balls more like 80/20 completions. With this in mind, there are three Notre Dame wide receivers who fit this criteria.


The first is Tobias Merriweather, a sophomore wide receiver whom fans were clamoring for more playing time during his freshman campaign. A track-star in high school, Merriweather has that unique combination of speed and size that every school in the nation was vying for. In his recruitment, the Irish beat out the likes of Oregon and Washington to secure the commitment from the 6'4" West Camas, Washington native. His shining moment last season was a 41-yard touchdown in Notre Dame's disappointing loss to Stanford. A concussion limited Merriweather's playing time as the calendar turned to November, but the sophomore is primed for a breakout campaign.




Via Mark J. Rebilas- USA TODAY Sports


The next of the athletic receivers Notre Dame has on their roster is quite possibly the most reliable target returning for the Fighting Irish, Jayden Thomas. Thomas' skillset interests me the most out of anyone in this wide receiver room because of what he has shown in the 2022 season. Thomas could stretch out defenses by running posts over the middle of the field, but also displayed the ability to make tough contested catches through the contact. I believe Thomas will be Notre Dame's "guy" to make the difference this season and his play style reminds me of a more physically built, TJ Jones.


Via Gary A. Vasquez- USA TODAY Sports


The last of the three big-bodied receivers is the tallest of the group, Deion Colzie. Most people argue that Merriweather has the most upside, but I actually think that answer lays in Colzie. The 6'5" receiver is so talented with his hands and has displayed great body control on contested catches. He was also a very trusted target for Drew Pyne last year, as it felt a large majority of Colzie's catches came on 3rd down. Colzie can be a difference maker and definitely a scape goat for Hartman if he sees the defense matching up one-on-one with him on the outside.





Speed Kills

Via ESPN


Chris Tyree has been a name Fighting Irish fans are very familiar with since the Virginia product burst onto the scene his freshman year. Tyree's speed is his biggest attribute, and after a position change from running back to wide out, Tyree will be utilizing this in the slot for the Irish. He has displayed his ability to have big runs after the catch in some of Notre Dame's most recent bowl games. Tyree got the Irish offense moving against Alabama in the Rose Bowl in 2020-2021 season on a bubble screen pass, and he also had a touchdown catch against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl loss. Chris Tyree is such a good athlete that this position change should not worry fans in the slightest. Freeman and Parker just had to get a way for him to see the field more often, and with a loaded running back room, Tyree's move to wide receiver should be very natural.


The Young Guns

Via NBC Sports





As most fans are aware, this Notre Dame receiving group got a big jolt in the last recruiting cycle. Wide Receivers coach Chansi Stuckey has done a phenomenal job putting together a highly-touted array of receivers from many of the biggest recruiting states, Texas and California.


The first, and probably most notable, of the freshman wide receivers is Jaden Greathouse. Greathouse made his presence known during the Blue Gold game where he served as one of Sam Hartman's favorite options. Greathouse, who went to school at Texas powerhouse Westlake, is used to winning, and winning often. The 6'1" 213 pound receiver has great knowledge of the game and has the ability to decipher soft zones in defenses and exploit them. Along with his high IQ play, Greathouse has plus hands, is a great route runner, and as a result of this, will see playing time early and often.

Via NBC Sports


The next of the young wide receivers is Rico Flores Jr. from Folsom, California. Simply put, Flores does not look like your typical college freshman. He displays great size, and knows how to utilize his bigger frame to create separation with smaller defense backs. Like Greathouse, Flores played against great competition during his high school years, and is coming from the same high school that produced the Ngata brothers that played their collegian ball at Clemson. While not possessing blazing speed, Flores is a well-rounded receiver. He can go over the middle, while also having the ability to be a redzone fade threat due to his fantastic body control ability.


Via Notre Dame Athletics


The last of the young guns is actually the first one to pledge his commitment to the Fighting Irish and that is Braylon James. James is a gamer who has the most "jumps off the screen" tools when looking at his game film. The first minute and a half of his high school highlights are him returning kickoffs to the house. The kid has great speed with a little slimmer build than that of the other two receivers. James utilizes this speed to create separation from defenders and can run down balls like that of a great centerfielder. James also displayed his vertical ability in his highlight tapes and the raw natural athleticism is something to get people very excited.


Wrap-up


While most fans eye the wide receiving room as the biggest question mark for Notre Dame heading into the 2023 season, I believe there is nothing to worry about. The tools and natural ability are present on campus. Coach Stuckey did his job on the recruiting trail, and his ability to coach guys on campus is what makes him so special as the position coach. Sam Hartman will elevate all these young wide receivers and there should be no sweating the passing threat for this upcoming season. What receiver are you most excited about? Let me know below or on Twitter, @LiamFarrell_IT .




1 Comment


Guest
Jul 23, 2023

Great article and some great insight!

Like
Like Our Content?
Enjoyed This Article?
Share Below
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
Enjoyed This Article?
Share Below
The Irish Tribune
Enjoyed This Article?
Share Below
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
bottom of page