top of page

Talent & Personnel Turnover Spells New Beginning for Notre Dame Receiving Core

Written by Liam Gaudet ⏐ Senior Editor ⏐ Twitter/X: @LiamGaudetIT

Photo by The Irish Tribune


With the majority of high-profile transfers said and done for the Irish, we now have a fleshed out glimpse of the personnel that Notre Dame will bring to the field in the spring of 2024. With many big names returning on the defensive side of the football, we already have a pretty good idea of what the Notre Dame defense is going to look like - and there doesn't seem to be a lot of worry in regards to how Al Golden's unit is going to look. On the other side of the football, however, we are going to see a lot of new faces emerge. Young stars like Jeremiyah Love and Jadarian Price will see the lion's share of the carries, and Riley Leonard should bring a welcomed dual threat ability to the quarterback position. A new-look offensive line showed competence during a dominant Sun Bowl victory, showcasing the depth and talent within the unit. The biggest question mark, it seems, will be the performance of a revamped and reloaded wide receiving core which looks to turn the page on what was another disappointing season.





A Quick Recap

For those who got lost in the chaos that has become the college football off-season, Notre Dame parted ways with wide receiver's coach Chansi Stuckey at the end of November following the conclusion of the regular season. Around the same time, a mass exodus of talent struck the room, as the departures of Rico Flores Jr, Chris Tyree and Braylon James ensued. This left Notre Dame with very few scholarship options at receiver for their upcoming bowl game. Marcus Freeman understood the importance of stability, as he was quickly able to turn things around by hiring Mike Brown to be Stuckey's successor. As quickly as things started spiraling for the Irish, the ship was steadied and minds were put at ease, as Mike Brown attacked the transfer portal with determination. Just as quickly as the exodus occurred, Notre Dame secured commitments from some impressive names in the portal. Clemson's Beaux Collins, FIU's Kris Mitchell, and finally Marshall's Jayden Harrison all pledged to the Irish over the last month, adding some much needed depth to a troubled position group.


What to Expect

With new life on offense, we can now speculate a little about what we're going to see from these pass catchers after wiping the slate clean. Let's start with arguably the biggest addition the Irish have made since hiring Al Golden - Mike Denbrock. Denbrock is no stranger to Notre Dame and high powered offenses, as this will be his third stint with the Irish dating all the way back to 2002. In his most recent stretch with the Irish that took place from 2010-2016, Denbrock played a big role coaching tight ends, receivers and the offense as a whole. One might argue that the last time the Irish had a truly polarizing offense through the air was back during Denbrock's tenure with DeShone Kizer and Will Fuller. Denbrock helped develop top end wide receiver talent at Notre Dame, and got the most out of the talent in the room. All this without mentioning his most recent success at LSU, where he orchestrated the number one offense in the country behind Heisman winning quarterback Jayden Daniels and stellar play from star receiver Malik Nabers. Denbrock was also the puppet master behind the Cincinnati Bearcats offense that walked into South Bend a few years ago and beat Notre Dame on the way to a college football playoff appearance. At this point, Mike Denbrock has enjoyed incredible success at all of his recent stops. Paired with his intricate understanding of how Notre Dame operates, you couldn't name a better candidate for the job. His presence should bring profound knowledge to the passing game that the Irish haven't seen since his departure, giving receivers in the room ample opportunity to make an impact.


As far as Mike Brown is concerned, this offseason will be crucial in terms of talent development. Stuckey left much to be desired in terms of on-field product, so building speed and explosiveness for the purpose of creating separation in order for Denbrock's plans to come to fruition should be priority number one. If Brown can recruit to a similar degree (and seeing his success in the portal, there shouldn't be any worries), the Irish route runners will see far more success in the coming years under a new regime.





Finally, let's address the men on the field. I believe the heights this team is capable of reaching once again hinges on their performance. For the sake of being concise, I'll discuss the receivers I believe will see the bulk of the load thrown their way this upcoming season. Starting with the group of transfers, Harrison, Collins and Mitchell all bring varying skill sets to the table, and all have incredible upside. Collins will slot in well as a big-body boundary type of receiver similar to someone like Jayden Thomas. He will likely see a rotational role, but with Thomas having a bit of an injury history, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him become a more permanent fixture should the Irish suffer from injuries during the season. Mitchell and Harrison bring more of a slot threat, with speed and agility being at the forefront of their game. It is worth noting that Mitchell was a great red zone threat during his time at FIU playing on the outside, but bigger and more physical receiving options might push Mitchell toward the slot. They will likely have to compete with rising star Jordan Faison for snaps, who absolutely burst onto the scene in the second half of the season. Harrison will likely see more success returning punts and kicks for the Irish, as his resume throughout his career as a return man is incredibly impressive. Still, both are very important depth pieces that will likely see moderate success within rotation. As mentioned, Jayden Thomas will return as a reliable option on the outside, hopefully getting more one-on-one looks to showcase his jump ball abilities with his great catch radius. When healthy, Jaden Greathouse saw terrific success in the slot, but is so versatile as an athlete he could virtually slide in anywhere and see success. I expect him to headline this group next season regardless of where he lines up. Finally, freshman phenom Cam Williams is a name I see a lot of people murmuring about - and for good reason. Williams is one of the highest ranked receivers to sign with the Irish in recent memory, and he is electric with the ball in his hands. Expect to see him featured on a lot of designed plays with the ball in his hands with room to move. Williams' combination of vision and agility will be enough to get him on the field early and often. I'd love to see Denbrock feature him similar to the way USC featured Zachariah Branch this season, and let his athleticism dictate the outcome of the play.


To wrap things up, the Irish look to be more athletic than they've been in a long time at the receiver position. A combination of talent, coaching pedigree and experience should make this group one of the most exciting to watch on the team in 2024. Notre Dame fans should be extremely pleased and excited with the offseason moves Marcus Freeman has made, and he has addressed one of the most glaring issues plaguing this offense in a big way. Buckle up, because the ceiling for this group just got raised.


Comments


Enjoyed This Article?
Subscribe
For

FREE
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
The Irish Tribune
bottom of page