Status Report: Irish WR and TE

Our final series of spring wrap-up columns examines Notre Dame’s roster with a look at each individual’s status entering the summer months. Is he ascending? Has he stagnated? Did he take a step back?

Will Fuller (X) – Participated fully in spring ball while recovering from a broken hand. The only thing missing from his game is consistency on the catch (targeted 119 times last season, he dropped 12 passes which is about six too many). Nonetheless, Fuller is working his way toward “Best Deep Threat” status in program history and is the team’s top playmaker heading into 2015.

Status: Ascending

Corey Robinson (W) – Missed a chunk of spring ball with a concussion, mitigating his chance for a major step forward. Robinson’s play tailed off in November (and December) last season but the junior target noted last week he’s taken the necessary steps in the weight room to avoid that pitfall in 2015.

Status: Stagnant

Chris Brown (W) – Entering his final season, is Brown’s career arc a case of, ‘What you see (solid) is what you get?’ Or he establish a consistent level of play that makes him Notre Dame’s no-doubt No. 2 target next fall.

Status: Stagnant

Amir Carlisle (Slot) – Ended spring as the No. 1 slot receiver and was lauded by head coach Brian Kelly as the unit’s most consistent player. He won’t own the job, not with C.J. Prosise returning from backfield duties at least part-time, but Carlisle is poised for a solid final season.

Status: Ascending

Torii Hunter, Jr. (Slot, X) – Received the opportunity to earn ample reps in the slot this spring but he’d be the No. 3 at that all-important “Z” position upon Prosise’s return. The drawback of Hunter’s inside duty was limited reps on the perimeter (X), where he’ll now have to compete with Corey Holmes to be Fuller’s backup.

Status: Stagnant. Did not appear to press Carlisle for the starting slot receiver position and backing up Fuller proved to be the worst gig among the skill positions last season as Fuller rarely left the field.

Justin Brent (W) – Faced an uphill battle to breech the top six (Fuller, Robinson, Brown, Carlisle, Prosise, Hunter) and did not appear to do so. Still, plenty of wiggle room remains in what is likely to be a 7-player game-day rotation to start 2015 -- and it’s a rotation that could expand.

Status: Stagnant on a squad that lost nothing from its perimeter from 2014. Brent’s overall game advanced – you could thus argue a small step forward was taken…

Corey Holmes (X) – Received ample work at X, which is all he could ask for after entering the spring. Holmes can’t afford to drop catchable passes as often witnessed by the media last month and he responded with a solid Blue Gold Game effort.

Status: Ascending -- Relatively speaking. Holmes entered the 15-practice session with the most ground to gain and a full spring of second-team reps at X behind Fuller seemed to help his cause. Can he surpass Hunter and/or Brent and hold off incoming freshmen this summer?

(Note: Prosise will be reviewed with the offensive backfield.)

Durham Smythe (TE) – Clearly emerged as the No. 1 tight end – both as a receiver and blocker – and that was expected of him. Smythe has three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out his freshman season 2013.

Status: Ascending

Tyler Luatua (TE) – Will likely carve a role in the 12-package (two TE sets) but his blocking will have to improve to convince the Irish offensive brain trust that a second tight end is more valuable than a third wide receiver in most instances – especially if that receiver is a slotted, 220-pound C.J. Prosise.

Status: Stagnant/Ascending, take your pick -- it was clear his weight loss over the off-season helped him as a pass-catching threat.

Nic Weishar (TE) – The best player that will sit and watch most of next season? Weishar is a future weapon down the seams but he’s stuck in the middle of a healthy tight end mix at present. Other than Smythe, no one is established in the staff’s collective eye so upward mobility is plausible with a huge summer and August Camp.

Status: Stagnant

Chase Hounshell (TE) – From no-chance scout teamer at defensive end as a senior last fall to likely special teams contributor and a potential aid at tight end in what would be his fifth season, 2015 -- Hounshell’s perseverance should be commended. 

Status: Ascending. He was a fourth-string defensive end with apparently no shot at being on the team just four months ago. Now there’s a solid chance he’ll earn a fifth-season and could see the field in certain situations. 

Mike Heuerman – Head coach Brian Kelly referenced his quartet of tight ends no less than three times in Spring 2015. He never made that a quintet by including the name Mike Heuerman. Whether that was intentional or a repeated oversight, it’s not a good thing. Heuerman has yet to appear in a contest entering his junior season.

Status: A Step Back.  

Summer Additions: Tight end Aliz’e Jones and wide receivers Miles Boykin, Jalen Guyton, C.J. Sanders, and Equanimeous St. Brown.

Next in our Spring Status Series: The Irish Secondary Top Stories