The answer could be David Grimes. The 6-0, 168-pound sophomore has a year's experience in the offense and was used in more formations as the 2005 season progressed. Despite catching just two passes for 19 yards, this could be the year where Grimes makes more of an impact for the Irish.
"I have to gain the confidence of my fellow teammates," Grimes said. "I need to continue to get better at technique and fundamentals and be in a position to produce. I want to gain the confidence of Brady and be comfortable with him."
There are a bevy of contenders for that third spot. In addition to Grimes, senior Chase Anastasio could be one option while the other could be junior Darrin Bragg. Between these three returnees, though, they have accumulated a total of just three receptions. This lack of experience has opened the door for a deep group of freshmen. Richard Jackson, Robby Parris, George West and Barry Gallup should get plenty of looks in fall camp to see if they can make contributions this season.
"All of these freshmen coming are going to get an opportunity to get into the mix, because other than those two guys (Samardzija and McKnight), nothing is etched in stone," Weis said at Media Day.
"They are young and very talented," Grimes said of the freshmen. "They bring a lot to the table. You got guys who are familiar with going up for the ball. I think they're more advanced the other young guys I've seen at their age."
If it wasn't for a minor setback in the spring, Grimes might have been able to create some distance from the pack. He tweaked his knee in spring ball, forcing him to limit his actions in practice. He did catch five passes in the Blue-Gold game though to make a strong impression.
"I would have liked to be healthy," Grimes said about spring practice. "It would have been a huge help. But things happen in football. I have to take it in stride and go from there."
Grimes does have one guy in his corner. It's McKnight, who is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss all but two games last season. Grimes calls McKnight an "older brother" and even walked up to the interview room together after practice on Monday.
"Rhema is a big wide receiver but he's also quick and shifty and can make plays," Grimes said. "That's some of the attributes I have. I've watched film on him and tried to follow his direction and lead."
Grimes can contribute in other ways. He was on the kickoff team last year, taking 15 of them for an average of 22.5 yards per return. Weis had confidence in Grimes as a freshman to hold on to the ball and not make mistakes. Despite not making key miscues, there was a lack of explosiveness in the kick return game. This season, expect challenges from speedy Munir Prince, West and Gallup to battle him in this area.
"I want to help the team in anyway that I can," Grimes said. "If that's special teams, that's fine. I'm in the mix. I got to hold my own."