Notre Dame lost one of the best wide receivers in the country in 1st round NFL pick Michael Floyd. Replacing him is impossible. But, Notre Dame has a cast of young blossoming athletes who are ready to make a difference on Saturdays. Collectively, they may be able to soften the blow of losing the leading receiver in school history.
Notre Dame returns veterans T.J. Jones and Robby Toma who have seen significant playing time during their careers at Notre Dame. Last year, Jones caught 38 passes for 366 yards. This year, he will be forced into a more prominent role. Jones will need to be consistent early to allow the younger players time to adjust to the game. Many have questioned why Jones has yet to break out. Sometimes, he is tremendous. On other occasions, he disappears from the game entirely. According to all reports of camp this fall, however, Jones will be ready to make more of an impact in his Junior season.
Robby Toma began to get more playing time late in the season last year after the injury to Theo Riddick. Toma seized the opportunity. He caught 7 passes against Maryland and 5 passes against Boston College. During the last four games of the season, he averaged 43 yards per game (which includes not making a reception against Stanford). If Toma can repeat these types of performances, he should be a very productive player in 2012. He is a solid player with great hands. He will not make the “WOW” play. But, he will move the chains.
5th-year Senior John Goodman is looking to make the most of his last year at Notre Dame. Despite being an Army All-American, Goodman has never really emerged as a productive player for the Fighting Irish. In his 3 years playing for the Fighting Irish, Goodman has tallied 315 yards. Goodman has emerged this as one of the starters at wide receiver. It was also reported via Twitter that Goodman was one of the fastest players on the team, running in the 4.3 to 4.4 range. Goodman’s talent has never been questioned. His consistency has. His play during the spring and summer has proven that he is ready to perform in the fall.
In order for the Fighting Irish to be successful this season, the younger and more inexperienced players must set up and perform like their talent dictates. This starts with Sophomore receiver Davaris Daniels. Daniels is an exception athlete and football player. The reports from camp are that Daniels is ready to make a contribution this fall. He has potential to be a starter at some point this season and possibly Notre Dame’s leading receiver.
The Freshman receivers also might be ready to an impact. The receiver that has been impressing the most at camp is 6’2” 172 lbs speedster from South Carolina Chris Brown. Brown has shown the ability to get open deep against any one who dares to cover him. At 172 lbs, he is quite limited blocking and against press coverage. However, Brown should see the field this fall both on offense and special teams. The other two Freshman receivers Ferguson and Neal have also impressed. Neal is listed as the back up to Toma at the slot position. It would not be surprising if Neal is the starter by season’s end.