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Who's In and Who's Out: The Notre Dame Wide Receiving Room

Written by Liam Farrell|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @LiamFarrell_IT

Via The Irish Tribune


The biggest offseason turmoil within the Notre Dame football program was shockingly in the wide receiver's room. Back in early December when Chansi Stuckey had been let go and four of Notre Dame's wide receivers quickly entered the transfer portal, many fans were nervous to see how Marcus Freeman would react. He did so by securing three extremely versatile wide receivers in the portal and filled the holes left by Stuckey as the position coach with his former colleague, Mike Brown, who has had success with his time at Cincinnati. While the wide receiving room sure was slim during the Sun Bowl victory over Oregon State, Irish fans saw a glimpse into the future with the firepower that is soon to come. Let's break down who's in and who's out in the Notre Dame pass catching department.





Who's In


Mike Brown:

Marcus Freeman and Mike Brown's relationship all ties back to the same program that most Notre Dame coaches come out of, it seems - the University of Cincinnati. Brown developed three current NFL wide receivers during his time at Cincinnati, in the Colts' Alec Pierce, the Raiders' Tre Tucker, and the Bears' Tyler Scott. Brown was the wide receivers' coach when the Bearcats came into Notre Dame Stadium in 2021 and then defeated the Irish 24-13. This pickup is a bit of a comfort move for Freeman, hiring someone he knows and trusts; but with Brown's track record, the wide receiver room appears to be in good hands.


Kris Mitchell:

Mitchell was at the top of Marcus Freeman's bucket list as soon as the transfer portal opened. Mitchell, the standout from FIU, tallied 1,118 yards and 7 TDs last year in his junior season. Brining in a 1000-yard receiver is almost certainly always a good thing, especially with Mitchell displaying his talent against decent competition. Last year against Arkansas, Mitchell had 6 catches for 157 yards and an 80-yard TD against the SEC foe. The last time the Irish had a 1,000-yard receiver was in 2019 with Chase Claypool, so it has been some time since the Irish have had this elite level of a pass catcher.


Beaux Collins:

The second move that Freeman and co. made to patch up the wide receiving room was with Collins, the Clemson transfer. Collins, who was an extremely high ranked recruit coming out of St. John Bosco, has regressed a bit during his time at Clemson. Collins got playing time as a true freshman for Dabo Swinney and caught 3 TD's his freshman year being reunited with his high school quarterback, DJ Uiagalelei. Over his three-year career at Clemson, Collins caught 91 passes, for 1,290 yards and 11 TDs. Collins is a bit of a bigger wide receiver and will most likely be behind Jayden Thomas.


Jayden Harrison:

The last piece of the puzzle came into place last week as the Irish got the commitment from the Speedster from Marshall. To be frank, Harrison will probably see limited snaps at the wide receiving position. Harrison had a career best 410 yards last year for the Thundering Herd and added a touchdown to his credit. The facet that Marcus Freeman brought Harrison in for was his ability in the Kick Return game. Harrison was named a Jet Award finalist and a First Team All American by CBS with his kick return duties. This speed is always nice to have, but with the predicted duo of Jordan Faison and Jaden Greathouse working in the slot, Harrison will focus on the kick return duties.





Who's Out


Chansi Stuckey:

The departure of Chansi Stuckey was a bittersweet one for most Irish fans. On one hand, Stuckey was an elite level recruiter since the day he stepped foot on campus in South Bend. The loaded class of Jaden Greathouse, Rico Flores, and Braylon James, accompanied by Cam Williams, Micah Gilbert, and Logan Saldate the year after would have the Fighting Irish receiving core looking bright for years to come. On the other hand, there had been no jumps in improvement for the Notre Dame wide receivers since Stuckey took over. In 2022, many blamed the Irish's poor QB play on the lack of production from wide outs; however, with Sam Hartman at the reigns in 2023, there was still no change. Much of this fell onto Stuckey, as it was time for the Irish to go in a new direction.


Chris Tyree:

Notre Dame's best wide receiver last year, Tyree has found a new home at wide receiver after making the full time move over from running back. Tyree has committed to play in his home state of Virginia for the Cavaliers. While Tyree was good at many moments during the year, his drop against Louisville in the second half will be the play that wipes away the memory of many Notre Dame supporters. Tyree will showcase his skills against the Fighting Irish next season as Virginia comes to Notre Dame Stadium in mid-November.


Rico Flores J:

Out of all the departures, this one stung the most as Flores looked to be an emerging star in South Bend. Flores had 392 yards last year and his sole touchdown was against Ohio State late in the 4th quarter. While lacking jaw dropping speed or athleticism, Flores always found a way to get open due to his elite route running ability. In December, Flores committed to play closer to home for Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins. It should be interesting to see the progression Flores makes in his sophomore year against Big 10 competition.


Tobias Merriweather:

Coming out of high school, Merriweather was one of Notre Dame's highest ranked receivers to come into the program in the last 10 years. The 6'4" receiver from Washington had the size, speed, and hands that were a recipe for success; however, he could never translate these gifts onto the field. Merriweather struggled to get opened and created limited separation at all during 50/50 balls. A fresh new start may be exactly what Merriweather needs in order to turn his college career around, as he will be playing in the ACC for Cal next season.


Braylon James:

While James may be the last name mentioned here, he was the first player to enter the portal after Coach Stuckey had been let go. James was the highest ranked recruit out of Flores and Greathouse, but had the least amount of production. James struggled during practices and could never find his footing in South Bend. He is yet another wide receiver who is returning close to home for school as he is going back to Texas to attend TCU next year.


Wrap-Up


There are the ins-and-outs of the Notre Dame wide receiving room as the team has now begun their winter workouts. It should be interesting to see if Freeman and Brown bring in any other receivers, but I highly doubt it. Do you think the receiving room is better this year or last year? Let me know in the comments below!


1 Comment


Guest
Jan 19

The receiver room has improved in my opinion. With the addition of Mike Brown and the portal transfers along with those who stayed. We are in good shape!!

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