Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver T.J. Jones (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deion Belue (13) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Football: Reevaluating the Wide Receivers

With the transfer of Justin Ferguson and Davonte Neal, the Notre Dame Football roster is left with seven players who are currently on campus.

Notre Dame will have 9 receivers when Will Fuller and Torii Hunter Jr enroll at the University in the fall.

More importantly, it leaves the Irish Offense with one natural slot receiver (Z), James Onwualu.

So, how will Notre Dame handle this issue? Luckily for Chuck Martin and his Offensive, it appears that Early Enrollee James Onwualu will be ready to contribute this fall. Brian Kelly said that he is ready to compete with the veterans physically.

Notre Dame will probably need to cross train another player at the Z position to ensure that the Irish have depth there. This could be a combination of players and it may depend on whether other young men are prepared to step up at other spots.

One option for the Irish right now is to move veteran T.J. Jones to that position. Jones does not have top end speed but his quicker than fast shiftiness in the open field may be excellent for that spot.

If Jones were to move, Senior Daniel Smith and Sophomore Chris Brown would need to step up at the Outside Wide Receiver (X) position. Daniel Smith can be utilized as a blocker but he is not truly a threat in the passing game. Chris Brown is a player who can take the top off the coverage but can he refine his route running overall?

If these two athletes improve upon their weaknesses, this will give Notre Dame flexibility in the personnel they choose to put on the field.

Notre Dame can also adjust their options by utilizing different formations. The Irish could use two Tight End formations. In two Tight Ends, only two Wide Receiver would be needed. Additionally, Notre Dame could use a second Running Back at the slot position.

The loss of these two players, especially Neal, hampers Notre Dame’s ability to do everything they want. Their margin for error is a lot slimmer. Chuck Martin and Brian Kelly will have to get creative to overcome these challenges but Notre Dame has the personnel that should be able to do it.


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