Ranked the 161st overall prospect and the No. 19 wide receiver on the Scout 300 list, Miles Boykin – a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder out of Tinley Park, Ill. – was a four-star catch for the Fighting Irish with offers from schools such as Ohio State, Oregon, Florida, Michigan State, Michigan and Mississippi.
With his 65 receptions for 1,035 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill., the Champaign News-Gazette named him Illinois Player of the Year and the Chicago Tribune tabbed him for first-team all-state. His senior exploits earned him an invitation to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif. As a junior, Boykin caught 51 passes for 730 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly mentioned Boykin’s name during the 2015 pre-season as an up-and-coming prospect with a chance to make an early contribution. But when classmate Equanimeous St. Brown emerged as a quick study with veterans Will Fuller and Chris Brown leading the receiving corps, the decision was made to preserve a year of Boykin’s eligibility.
He enters the fall with eligibility through the 2019 campaign.
• BEST-CASE SCENARIO
If Corey Robinson decides to bypass his senior year of eligibility, the door will be open at the W position for nothing but youngsters to compete for the starting job/playing time.
On paper, the edge would go to St. Brown since he played last season, although injuries slowed him in the fall and spring, and he’s still learning the W position after playing predominately the X (behind Fuller) last fall. Boykin also will compete with classmate Alize Jones, a tight end who split wide in the spring and presented coverage mismatches, much like Boykin does with his length and across-the-middle pass-catching prowess.
• WORST-CASE SCENARIO
Boykin competes for the starting W spot, but can’t get past one or some combination of Robinson, St. Brown and Jones. The position is unsettled enough, however, that there should be at least spot-duty opportunities for Boykin to make an impact and begin compiling a reception resume in his first year of eligibility.
• CAREER COMPARISON
As a freshman wide receiver in 1995, 6-foot-5 wide receiver Malcolm Johnson preserved a year of eligibility as Derrick Mayes headlined the Notre Dame receiving corps en route to a 9-2 regular season and a trip to the Orange Bowl against Florida State. The lanky Washington D.C. product entered the starting lineup as a sophomore and caught 110 passes over the next three seasons for 1,737 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Last season, Boykin preserved a year of eligibility while Will Fuller, Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle caught the bulk of the passes from DeShone Kizer as Notre Dame turned in a 10-2 regular season and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. His time to shine begins this fall.
• DEVELOPMENT VS. RECRUITING RANKING
Top 20 prep wideouts frequently make a freshman impact, but the positioning of veteran wide receiver Chris Brown at W would have made it very difficult for most rookie receivers to take away significant snaps from someone who had been playing since his freshman season and had emerged as a technician as both a pass catcher and downfield blocker as well as an emotional leader on the offense.
With four years of eligibility remaining, Boykin may not be ahead of the curve, but he’s certainly not far off the pace heading into his red-shirt freshman season with a chance to earn significant playing time at the W.
• BOYKIN AT HIS BEST
Yet to be determined in game competition, but Boykin was a big, inviting target this spring for quarterbacks Kizer and Malik Zaire. Boykin showed a particular skill for using his size and athleticism on crossing routes to create difficult matchups for defensive backs.
• QUOTE OF NOTE
“He needs to get more aggressive to the football at times, (but) he’s got great hands. He’s got to trust them and he’s got to go snatch the football like he’s capable of doing on a consistent basis. When we get him there, he’ll be a big part of what we do.”
-- ND associate head coach/receivers coach Mike Denbrock