Spring Wrap: Wide Receivers

Our third review of spring ball in the "Incomplete" series examines Notre Dame's eight-man receivers corps. Who stood out, who disappointed, and who'll join the fray for the fall?

Wide Receivers -- In Flux

The unit practiced most of the spring with just eight scholarship players after the transfers of sophomores Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson. Two more will join in the summer. Of the ten 2013 scholarship receivers, only two exhaust eligibility at season's end.

Spring Pecking Order: Seniors T.J. Jones and Daniel Smith, along with rising junior DaVaris Daniels are far ahead of the pack, with sophomore Chris Brown and redshirt-freshman C.J. Prosise locks for the game day rotation next fall. A pair of early enrollees, Corey Robinson and James Onwualu, along with senior Luke Massa fill out the eight-man group exiting spring. Robinson was the most impressive of the latter trio, routinely making leaping, acrobatic receptions at practice prior to suffering a hyperextended elbow -- executing a diving catch, no less -- one week prior to the spring game.

Spring Star: Jones was easily the best and most consistent player, but Prosise was the unit's major riser, his move from safety to wide receiver, and immediate contention for playing time, the lead storyline. At 6'2" 217 pounds, Prosise resembles a running back but brings strong ball skills to the slot.

Aid on the Way: A pair of four-star prospects in Will Fuller and Torii Hunter, Jr. Hunter suffered a broken femur in January but is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery.

Remaining Spring Questions

Why didn't Daniels step up to Jones' practice level after starring in last year's BCS Championship game? Can Prosise become a reliable weekly option by mid-September when the Irish hit the meat of their schedule? Can Smith add the threat of a mid-range possession game to his run blocking prowess? Can Jones be a 50-reception, 8-touchdown, chain-moving threat without Tyler Eifert drawing the lion's share of attention from secondaries?

Can Robinson do enough inside the hash marks to become a viable weekly option in the red zone? Or for at least five snaps per game? Can Onwualu join the back end of what is expected to be a six-player Saturday rotation? Are Brown's one-trick pony days (the post-route) in his rear view? Can Brown or Robinson execute blocks when the offense audibles to a run call? At 6'4" 234 pounds, what does Massa bring as a blocker? Will Prosise's size be evident as a perimeter blocker?

Can Daniels reach his considerable ceiling this fall, or will Irish fans be forced to wait until 2014? Can he stay healthy after ankle, collarbone, and knee injuries -- the latter minor this spring -- over the last seven months?

Final Thoughts

Either Fuller or Robinson is likely to emerge as the No. 6 receiver by mid-season; look for Onwualu to contribute on special teams from the outset…The offense needs three major unknowns to come to fruition: Smith must become a viable pass-catcher as a senior; Daniels must emerge as one of the team's 3-4 best offensive players as a junior; and Brown must become a legitimate BCS Bowl-level receiver as a true sophomore…Jones will play well -- can he and Daniels put the passing game on their backs in Ann Arbor while the rest of the group adjusts?

Considering Eifert was largely a receiver in 2012, for the first time since 2007, the unit includes far more questions than answers.

Next in the series: The team's tight ends…

Intro to Series

A key defensive line prospect. The nation's best high school linebacker. Two punters (phew!). The offense's quickest player. Two of the defense's three best cornerbacks. One of its three best inside linebackers. Two of its five best safety prospects. Two running backs capable of winning weekly roles. Two freshmen pass targets (one already on campus) capable of filling in at the back end of the rotation. Countless special teams contributors.

The list of potential -- and in many cases, certain -- 2013 commodities not involved in Saturday's quirky Blue Gold Game ranks as one of the spring game's most relevant stories, and leads to my final grade on head coach Brian Kelly's Irish as they exit a 15-session, five-week spring:


Just as it did in 2012 -- a national runner-up season and the best in 19 years for the program -- Notre Dame's 2013 football team will be made whole by its first-time scrimmage contributors.

That list last fall included major contributions from the likes of Tony Springmann, Danny Spond, Keivarae Russell, Matthias Farley, Sheldon Day, DaVaris Daniels, Daniel Smith, Chris Brown, Nicky Baratti, Elijah Shumate, and of course, Everett Golson.

"We're also going to bring in a number of freshmen that I'm certain are going to be involved in special teams, especially some of those bigger-bodied guys," said Kelly during his spring wrap-up press conference. "You've got (Michael) Deeb and (Doug) Randolph and Jaylon Smith and Max Redfield just to name a few. We've got some guys coming in, some DBs, in (Devin) Butler and (Rashad) Kinlaw. There is going to be an influx of talented guys that can help us in that area."

And from scrimmage as well, not only the freshmen, but those returning from injury, little-used players from 2012, and a host of others. The only guarantee for 2013 is that September's lot of key contributors will differ -- perhaps greatly -- from November's.

Over the next three days at Irisheyes.com we'll conclude our review of spring ball 2013 with a position-by-position look at where each unit stands, and from who it will receive aid in August camp and throughout 2013.

For our review of the running backs, Click here.

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