Inside Notre Dame's Fighting Irish by Jason O'Mahony
Fighting Irish Positional Analysis: Wide Receivers
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 04:01 AM
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(Note: The number listed in parenthesis is the years of eligibility remaining and the listing of a player's class is based upon the upcoming 2012 season.)
ON THE ROSTER
WIDE RECEIVERS DEPARTED: Michael Floyd, Deion Walker
WIDE RECEIVERS RETURNING: 5th-John Goodman (1), Sr.-Theo Riddick (1), Sr.-Robby Toma (1), Jr.-TJ Jones (2), Jr.-Daniel Smith (2), Jr.-Luke Massa (3), Soph.-DaVaris Daniels (4), Soph.-Matthias Farley (4)
POSSIBLE POSITION SWITCH: Riddick arrived at Notre Dame as a running back, and returned to the offensive backfield for the Stanford and Florida State games at the end of the 2011 season. Massa, who came to Notre Dame as a quarterback, could return to that position for depth chart purposes now that Dayne Crist has bypassed his fifth year of eligibility at Notre Dame. George Atkinson III, who was recruited as a wideout, played running back in 2011, but is a candidate to return to receiver. Some think classmate Cam McDaniel, a running back, might be a slot receiver candidate as well. Incoming freshman KeiVarae Russell will arrive at Notre Dame as an athlete with a first shot at running back, although he could slide over to the Z position.
COMMITTED WR RECRUITS: Chris Brown (Hanahan, S.C.), Justin Ferguson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, Calif.), KeiVarae Russell (Everett, Wash.)
WR OFFERS: (2011-12 in addition to Brown, Ferguson and Greenberry): Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo.), Stefon Diggs (Olney, Md.), Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla.), Cayleb Jones (Austin, Texas; Texas commit), Thomas Johnson (Dallas, Texas), Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla.; Alabama commit), Durron Neal (St. Louis, Mo.; Oklahoma commit), Bryce Treggs (Bellflower, Calif., Cal commit), Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.; LSU commit), Aaron Burbridge (Farmington Hills, Mich.; Michigan State commit), Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif.; Cal commit); Drae Bowles (Jackson, Tenn.; Tennessee commit), Davonte Neal (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City, Okla.; Oklahoma commit), Dwayne Stanford (Cincinnati, Ohio; Oregon commit), D'Vario Montgomery (Winter Park, Fla., South Florida commit), Amara Darboh (West Des Moines, Iowa; Michigan commit), Leonte Carroo (Ramsey, N.J.; Rutgers commit), Latroy Pittman (Citra, Fla.; Florida commit), Marvin Bracy (Orlando, Fla.; Florida State commit), Reginald Davis (Tenaha, Texas; Texas Tech commit), Jordan Westerkamp (Lombard, Ill.; Nebraska commit), Alton Howard (Orlando, Fla.; Tennessee commit), Michael Thomas (Fork Union, Va.; Ohio State commit), Kwinton Smith (Dillon, S.C.; South Carolina commit), Malik Gilmore (Lakewood, Calif.; Oregon State commit), Ian Thomas (Reistertown, Md.), Raphael Andrades (Tallahassee, Fla.)
WRS ON THE ND BOARD: Nelson Agholor, Raphael Andrades, Alton Howard, Davonte Neal
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JUNIOR WIDE RECEIVERS OFFERED (2012-13): Richard Benjamin (Tampa, Fla.), Jordan Cunningham (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Reggie Davis (Tallahassee, Fla.), Robert Foster (Monaca, Pa.), Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, Fla.), Derrick Griffin (Rosenberg, Texas; Texas A&M commit), Travis Johnson (Tampa, Fla.), Devin Lauderdale (Houston, Texas), Uriah LeMay (Matthews, N.C.), Ricky Seals-Jones (Sealy, Texas), Tramel Terry (Goose Creek, S.C.), Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill.)
The Irish are looking for answers, lots of them and quickly, as the long list of offers from this year's recruiting efforts as well as next year's would indicate. Record-setting wide receiver Michael Floyd is gone after shattering several marks in school history at the position, and the heir apparent to the throne is not apparent.
The only two certainties in terms of positioning and previous playing time are senior-to-be Robby Toma and junior-to-be TJ Jones, who can play a couple of the wideout positions.
Theo Riddick could return to the slot position, where he spent most of the past two seasons until moving back to his original position of running back when Jonas Gray went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Daniel Smith has the physical dimensions for flanker, but injuries, Floyd's presence and his own slower development leave him fighting for everything he can get heading into his third season. Luke Massa, a junior-to-be, never cracked the depth chart in 2011 after his transition from quarterback, and doesn't appear to be an immediate threat to land significant playing time.
The long-term future at wide receiver is in the hands of sophomores-to-be DaVaris Daniels and Matthias Farley - both of whom preserved a year of eligibility in 2011and incoming freshmen Deontay Greenberry, Justin Ferguson and Chris Brown (and possibly Russell). George Atkinson III might be in a position to earn more playing time at receiver than running back in '12 with Cierre Wood getting most of the carries and incoming freshman William Mahone filling the big-back role.
The Irish still hold out hope for highly touted recruits Nelson Agholor and Davonte Neal. But Notre Dame is not considered the front-runner for either. Notre Dame also appears to have pushed too late for Tennessee commit Alton Howard. Florida's Raphael Andrades - with offers from Arkansas, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Illinois and Kentucky could be a late-January visitor to South Bend.
The Irish need to be more productive/explosive at the wideout positions in order to match what Kelly has accomplished in the passing game prior to his arrival at Notre Dame. Spring drills will be critical to the development of the passing game, particularly if the Irish are going to transition in a different direction at the quarterback position where chemistry must be developed with his/their targets.