ND A-to-Z: Justin Brent

Part-running back, part-wide receiver in high school, Justin Brent has had difficulty picking up the nuances of the wideout position with the talent level around him increasing.

Ranked as the 64th best prospect nationally by Scout and the No. 1 overall prospect in the state, the Indiana Class 3A all-state wide receiver/running back put up bigger numbers carrying the football as a senior (1,315 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns) than he did catching it (28 receptions for 387 yards, five touchdowns). He did more damage through the air (131 catches, 2,285 yards, 32 touchdowns) from his freshman through junior seasons.

As an early enrollee at Notre Dame, Brent received praise from head coach Brian Kelly regarding the 6-foot-1 ½, 205-pounder’s advance physical development. But Kelly also mentioned in the fall that Brent needed refinement in the nuances of the wide receiver position, which has been slow to develop.


Based upon the spring of 2015, Brent may need a player or two in the receiver rotation to go down to get a “next man in” opportunity this fall, unless it all starts to click for the Speedway, Ind. product. He worked predominately as an X (field) receiver as a freshman and a W (boundary) receiver this spring, a position inhabited by veterans Chris Brown and Corey Robinson.


An opening for playing time may not occur until 2016 unless the light goes on and shines bright for Brent. Brown will be gone, and if Will Fuller duplicates/exceeds last year’s performance, the willowy wideout could depart for the NFL after the ’15 season, thus opening up a couple spots in the rotation for Brent. Then again, with two W candidates (Equanimeous St. Brown and Miles Boykin) and an X (Jalen Guyton) arriving in the freshman class, Brown’s opportunity to make a significant move may have come and gone this spring.


Although Virginia’s Deion Walker did not play as a freshman in 2008 and Brent did in 2014, Walker was a four-star prospect, the No. 11 overall receiver in the country (as was Brent) and the No. 3 wideout in the state of Virginia (compared to Brent’s No. 1 ranking in Indiana). Walker had a very difficult time adjusting as a freshman, as did Brent, who played in eight games (mainly on special teams) and did not catch a pass while Walker had just one grab during his red-shirt freshman season.


There are plenty of four-star receiver prospects out there that fail to make a significant impact as freshmen, usually because they aren’t prepared for the nuances of the passing game as it relates to wideouts adjusting to coverages on the run. To be sure, Brent did not live up to his four-star ranking as a freshman, although it’s much too early to declare that he will not take his game up several notches. Will he live up to the 64th best prospect in the country? He’s got a long way to go, although his 29-yard touchdown grab in the Blue-Gold Game wrapped up the spring on a high note.

Best Game

To be determined.


“What I see from him is inconsistency with somebody with the kind of tools that he has, so we’re demanding more from him. It’s his second spring, and I’m not going to wait around for him for the light to go on because there are too many good players.”
-- Brian Kelly

More ND A-to-Z

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories