#5 - Wide ReceiversSenior DaVaris Daniels (2015) and Amir Carlisle (2015), juniors Chris Brown and C.J. Prosise (2016), sophomores Will Fuller, Torri Hunter, Jr., (2017), and Corey Robinson, and freshmen Justin Brent and Corey Holmes. Brent enrolled in January and thus has a winter conditioning session and spring practice under his belt. Daniels, Carlisle, Prosise, and Hunter have a season of eligibility beyond their listed academic class.
Standout: DaVaris DanielsHis talent isn't in question. But to date, consistency has eluded the future NFL hopeful.
"I just really think he's got to be a man and step up and take care of his business," said Kelly of Daniels' reinstatement to the program after academic suspension last semester. "He's immensely talented. He's got to have his foot on the pedal all the time. And if he does, he's as good as anybody out there, that I've coached."
Consistency and attention to detail have eluded Daniels to date, but ability to make plays should not be questioned.
Next In LineThat's the pressing question.
Robinson had the biggest impact last season but Brown came on late (five receptions against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl) and his extra season in the program should begin to show as a true junior -- so too, in theory, will his breakaway speed now that the Irish have quarterbacks that can push the ball down field and make plays out of the pocket.
One from the pair is likely to earn the opening day starting nod opposite Daniels while a slot receiver (Prosise or Carlisle) claims the third technical starting job. It won't matter, Notre Dame will feature up to seven receivers every Saturday in September until one, two, three, or perhaps four step forward and earn the staff's trust. And six should be game day regulars throughout the sea on.
Additional DepthHow long do you have?
Fuller would have been my pick for the section above prior to spring ball but the speedster suffered from concentration issues in the spring. That is, a case of the "dropsies." He's too good for that to continue -- Fuller's ball skills were among his chief assets as a prep star.
Prosise and Carlisle will likely be 1A and 1B in the slot (not necessarily in that order) throughout camp and in September. Hunter, Brent, and especially Holmes, are a tick behind their pass-catching brethren, but only because none from the trio has played in a college game to date. Hunter recovered enough from a broken femur suffered on New Year's Day 2012 to emerge as the team's top scout team skill player last season.
Notre Dame is blessed with enviable depth at the position, but outside of Daniels, no member of the receiving corps is a sure thing for 2014 -- 2015, on the other hand.
The future is bright for the position in South Bend.
X-Factor -- Hunter: Reasonable projections can be made for Daniels, Brown, the sophomore pair of Robinson and Fuller, and even the slot tandem of Prosise and Carlisle, but what can Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock get from Hunter 20 to 23 months removed from such a gruesome injury. His quickness in the open field and innate playmaking skills would be an invaluable addition -- even intermittently -- to a receiving corps that has great potential.
Camp QuestionsCan either slot receiver distinguish himself and seize the starting role? Will Daniels emerge as a leader of the unit, or merely hold the role because of his senior status? Can Fuller bounce back and force his way past Robinson into the starting rotation? Will Brown separate from his younger competitors? Can Holmes pull even with the early enrollee Brent? Or can Brent force his way into the rotation ahead of a non-freshmen?
Is Carlisle a legitimate slot receiver or is he merely an athlete without a true position? The same can be asked of Prosise.
Best-Case ScenarioDaniels meets or surpasses TJ Jones' efforts and production from 2013…Robinson develops into a consistent chain moving threat on the outside while Brown and Fuller stretch the field, further opening the middle for the likes of Daniels, tight end Ben Koyack, and the slot tandem…Hunter plays a weekly role and Brent's athleticism allows him to contribute along the lines of Robinson, Fuller, and former wideout James Onwualu (now a safety) from 2013…Holmes impresses but is able to redshirt, a la Daniels (2011), thus preserving eligibility.
Worst-Case ScenarioDaniels' communication issues with the Irish quarterbacks carry over from 2013…Brown remains a one-trick pony…Robinson and Fuller prove to be a year away, as does Hunter…Brent plays like a true freshman when called upon…Neither Carlisle nor Prosise fully take to the slot, a reality that has plagued the position for the bulk of the Kelly era…The loss of the physical Onwualu from the unit is felt in the lack of consistent downfield and perimeter blocking that is so important for an explosive, productive offense.
Out on a LimbFive of the nine will record at least three touchdown receptions this season (as will tight end Ben Koyack). Daniels will star, but a clear-cut No. 2 won't emerge, as Brown, Robinson,and Fuller each look the part intermittently. Prosise becomes the main slot receiver in November despite Carlisle's September success. Notre Dame's wide receivers are exponentially better as a unit -- among the best in the nation -- in 2015 than they are this fall.
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