Matt Cashore / Irish Illustrated

Irish A-to-Z: Equanimeous St. Brown

The receiving corps lone reliable playmaker last season, St. Brown should have company in that regard in his junior campaign.

A consensus four-star prospect across recruiting services, St. Brown was ranked 144th by Rivals, 166th by 24/7 Sports, 207th, by Scout.com.

He was one of 13 members of the SCOUT 300 among Brian Kelly’s 23-player strong, 2015 recruiting class (two among those Baker’s Dozen have since transferred).

Entering his junior season, St. Brown was tabbed as the nation’s third-best wide receiver by Lindy’s Magazine, earning second team All-America mention.

  • Class: Junior
  • On the depth chart: Starter, likely at the X
  • Post-spring status: Unchanged

ST. BROWN AT HIS BEST

The opening five games of 2016 when he burst onto the scene with 25 catches for 541 yards and five touchdowns highlighted by this handspring score to open the season at Texas. (St. Brown was also robbed of 54 receiving yards by teammates’ penalties during last year’s ignominious opening month.)

https://youtu.be/-7pd10RRhoM

QUOTABLE

“EQ will be a better player. He’s diligently working on some of the weaknesses that he had, which limited him in certain areas. I think you’re going to see a better supporting cast across the board, which will give us much more balance.” – Brian Kelly

BEST CASE SCENARIO

More yards, more yards per catch, and more touchdowns…but not necessarily more receptions.

If St. Brown turns into a bona fide weekly playmaker it’s hard to imagine the Irish offense – one blessed with plenty of young talent – struggling.

St. Brown is the lone sure thing among the group but Notre Dame doesn’t (necessarily) need 80 receptions from its top dog as much as it does double-digit touchdowns, something north of 1,000 yards, and a handful of first downs each week.

When big plays are there to be made in the fourth quarter, St. Brown should be leading the charge.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

St. Brown has the athletic gifts to test the NFL’s waters at season’s end. That’s fine, provided his potential is first met while wearing the blue and gold.

In other words, he needs to be more like Will Fuller than say, Troy Niklas, should he decide to make the leap – at least to the appeasement of Notre Dame fans.

The worst case for St. Brown and Irish fans alike would be a statistically strong season bereft of payoff on the final scoreboards. Like defensive rebounds in basketball, pass-receiving statistics in football can be rendered meaningless – especially if a team’s top pass-catcher suffers a few ill-timed drops or poorly run routes along the way in defeat.

CAREER COMPARISON

Though both their styles of play and athletic frames are disparate, St. Brown’s sophomore statistics closely resemble those of 2007-09 star receiver Golden Tate.

Tate, whose ensuing 2009 junior campaign ranks among the 10 best individual seasons for player – regardless of position – in Notre Dame history, registered 58 receptions for 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. (He added a rushing score.)

St. Brown likewise caught 58 passes as a sophomore but for 961 yards and 9 scores.

Tate’s remarkable, tour de force junior season won’t likely be approached by St. Brown, but their respective status in the college football world and in South Bend entering their third seasons at the program are similar nonetheless.

For an apt athletic and size comparison, St. Brown resembles 2002-05 late-bloomer Maurice Stovall, whose best season was his senior year (69 receptions, 1,149 yards, 11 TD). Stovall entered that final campaign with 61 receptions, 1,036 yards, and 7 TD to his credit.


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