Pass Catchers' Pecking Order

An accurate projection for the distribution of receptions for an entire offense is futile in August, but the eighth prediction in our annual pre-season series takes a shot at said pecking order for Notre Dame's 2014 pass-catchers.

#1 -- Senior WR DaVaris Daniels: T.J. Jones led the way with 70 last season while he and Tyler Eifert both registered 50 in 2012 to share the team-high. In the neighborhood of 65 seems reasonable for Daniels in what should be a balanced attack. Crucial among those 65: an average in excess of 14 yards and at least eight scores.

#2 -- Junior WR Chris Brown: The highest receptions total for a second-banana during the Kelly era to do date is 63 by Tyler Eifert in 2011. (Theo Riddick had 40 in 2010, Jones 50 as noted in 2012, and Daniels posted 49 last season.)

This fall, Brown's yardage total is far more important -- in other words, the impact of his receptions rather than the number -- but if the junior speedster can hit 45 for the season it would signify a consistent 13-game effort for a player with just 17 career catches to date.

#3 -- Senior TE Ben Koyack: Logic dictates a number between 35-40. Notre Dame's No. 1 tight end has posted the following under Kelly: Troy Niklas 32 (2013), Eifert 50 (2012), Eifert 63 (2011), and Eifert/Rudolph a combined 54 as they split the season starting duties. (Eifert also had one catch as Rudolph's backup.) Look for Koyack to exceed Niklas' total from last season but not hit Eifert's mark in 2012. The key for Koyack is how many third-down, chain-moving receptions he registers, not his actual receptions total.

#4-- Junior WR Corey Robinson: To date, the highest total for a No. 4 receiver under Kelly is Theo Riddick's 38 in 2011. Robinson's likely to be closer to 25 as those below him will also play key roles as well, at least intermittently.

#5 -- Sophomore RB Tarean Folston: Just a hunch that Folston, because he'll be trusted more early than will his classmate Bryant, will receive the most snaps among Notre Dame's trio of runners in 2014. They can all catch, and they all will. Give Folston 20 as the highest total among the group.

#6 -- Sophomore WR Will Fuller: Most catches by a player finishing No. 6 under Kelly was 20 by Cierre Wood in 2010. (Last year, Robinson was at No. 6 with a paltry 9 catches.) Fuller can match Wood with 18-20 -- More than 16 yards per catch would signify great impact for the future star.

#7 -- Senior Slot Amir Carlisle: Fool me twice, shame on me. I'll place Carlisle's end-season total at 15 until proven otherwise. We project the senior's biggest impact to be as the lead kick returner. (He could also prove invaluable as a motioning player into the backfield for occasional pass protection, an area in which he was solid last season.)

#8 -- Junior Slot C.J. Prosise: Prosise might only be in line for 13-15 catches, but it's his yards after the catch that will have a major impact on the Irish offense.

#9 -- Sophomore RB Greg Bryant: Almost 15 -- and some will be electric

#10 -- Senior RB Cam McDaniel: Ditto Bryant.

#11 -- Freshman WR Justin Brent: Five as he gets his feet wet.

#12 -- Sophomore TE Durham Smythe: Five -- with his first career score included.

#13 -- Combined Totals: Three -- Hunter, Luatua, Heuerman, Weishar, Holmes -- with at least two redshirts included therein.

Final range of 285-295 completions would be a touch below the highest combined QB/WR total of the Kelly era to date (302 in 2011, with 269 by Rees.)

If I were to raise anyone's total, it would be Bryant's (or simply the combined total of the three RBs), but August camp impressions often makes fools of us all. It's plausible I've slightly underestimated Fuller (he could match Robinson), but Notre Dame has three running backs and a quarterback that will combine for more than 450 carries as well.

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Prediction No. 1: TD Scored (Topping the 50 produced in 2011)

No. 2: A Perfect September (Just four in the previous 25 seasons)

No. 3: More than 19 Defensive Starters (19 exactly last fall in an injury-riddled season)

No. 4: Nine Games "Close and Late" (A record 11 last season, Temple and Air Force the lone exceptions)

No. 5: 12 True Freshmen Play (Four previous seasons totaled 11, 9, 10, and 9 in 2010)

No. 6: Most Points Allowed of the Kelly Era (The 291 yielded last fall was the most of his four-season total to date)

No. 7: Most TFL of the Kelly Era 70 is the number to beat, and we're projecting a solid 80. Top Stories