What Notre Dame lost in experience it may gain in potential.
Corey Robinson’s decision to walk way from his senior season puts pressure on the sophomore class of wide outs, which now likely includes former five-star tight end Alizé Jones.
That group appears built to deliver, even if it’s yet to make much of a mark on Saturday.
Robinson’s departure means only Torii Hunter Jr. offers any real experience to the receiver roster, yet Jones, Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin and C.J. Sanders offer an upgrade of upside. While none is the walking Notre Dame billboard that Robinson was, each was ranked higher in Scout coming out of high school than the departing senior.
Jones nearly surpassed Robinson’s product last season despite being a part-time player, posting 13 catches for 190 yards while starting five games. Sanders and St. Brown were true role players, each finishing with just one catch. They both made special teams impacts. Sanders returned a punt and kickoff for scores. St. Brown blocked a punt against USC that Amir Carlisle returned for a touchdown.
So while Notre Dame’s receiver three-deep might be green – the Irish must replace 76.7 percent of their receptions, 80.1 percent of their yardage and 84 percent of their touchdowns – the raw material is there.
Here’s how the depth chart likely opens at training camp in August. The X is the position Fuller played last season, growing into a first-round pick. The X usually lines up on the same side of the formation as the slot receiver, which is the Z in Kelly’s offense. The W often lines up to the boundary side, the shorter space between the hash and the sideline. It’s usually played by a bigger body.
1. Torii Hunter Jr.
2. Kevin Stepherson
3. Javon McKinley
1. C.J. Sanders
2. Corey Holmes
3. Chris Finke
1. Alizé Jones
2. Equanimeous St. Brown
3. Miles Boykin
4. Chase Claypool