Matt Cashore / Irishillustrated.com

Irish A-to-Z: Miles Boykin

Boykin earned Brian Kelly’s trust with a strong spring. Boykin’s red-shirt sophomore year could be connected to Kevin Stepherson’s status.

Class: Junior (Eligibility: 3)
On The Depth Chart: Boykin ran with the No. 1 unit for the majority of the spring at the W position.
Post-Spring Status: Ascending

The No. 161 prep player on Scout in 2014, the four-star prospect caught 65 passes for 1,035 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior at Providence Catholic (Tinley Park, Ill.), despite missing three games due to injury. That came on the heels of a 51-catch, 730-yard, 13-touchdown junior campaign.

Boykin was one of 10 Notre Dame freshmen in 2015 to preserve a year of eligibility. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder showed flashes of emerging during the 2016 pre-season and played in all 12 games last fall.

He caught his first pass in Game 4 – a 20-yarder – versus Duke. His only multiple-catch game of the season came the following week against Syracuse when he snagged two passes for 25 and 11 yards. His sixth and final catch of the season (totaling 81 yards in ‘16) was an 18-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech.

With Kevin Stepherson playing a bit role this spring, Boykin joined Equanimeous St. Brown as the two wideouts with the No. 1 unit.

BOYKIN AT HIS BEST

While Boykin has done most of his best work on the practice field – including this spring when he emerged with the No. 1 unit – he flashed his capabilities midway through the second quarter of Game 11 versus Virginia Tech last season when he scored on an 18-yard pass from DeShone Kizer. Boykin’s length and explosiveness were evident on the play that gave the Irish a 24-7 lead in a 31-24 loss.

QUOTABLE

“Miles has been a very consistent ball-catcher. Very consistent in terms of assignments. His traits have been very evident in terms of attention to detail. His focus has been great. His attitude. He’s been gritty. He gets a lot of those back-shoulder throws where he has to go up and get it…He’s exhibiting all the traits we’re looking for.” -- Brian Kelly this spring

BEST CASE SCENARIO

Boykin has the inside track for one of the starting wideout positions with St. Brown and a pair of tight ends. As it relates to the W position, only St. Brown has experience in that spot and St. Brown played the X in the spring. Boykin is in position to multiply his six-catch 2016 season by four or five times in 2017. His size and strength also should make him an inviting red-zone target. (Note: Brian Polian also liked what Boykin brought to the special teams units.)

WORST CASE SCENARIO

Kevin Stepherson’s status likely will impact Boykin. As a freshman, Stepherson finished first on the team in average per catch (18.5), second in receiving touchdowns (5) and third in receptions (25). If Stepherson were to re-emerge, St. Brown could pop between X and W, which would force a time-share situation. At the least, Boykin would be an inviting target in the red zone, on crossing routes and in one-tight end alignments.

CAREER COMPARISON

A year ago, we compared Boykin’s career arc to that of Malcolm Johnson, who preserved a year of eligibility as a freshman in 1995 as a classmate (Derrick Mayes) emerged. Last year, as a red-shirt freshman, Boykin gave way to classmate St. Brown.

The parallels remain relatively close to Johnson’s – particularly as it pertains to size and potential -- although Johnson caught 25 passes as a red-shirt freshman before finishing his three-year career at Notre Dame (1996-98) with 110 receptions for 1,737 yards and 10 TDs. To continue following Johnson’s career path, Boykin needs a strong move in 2017.


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