Despite a disappointing loss to Texas on Sunday, Notre Dame may have found future receiving stars in Equanimeous St. Brown and CJ Sanders.
The departure of Will Fuller left a relatively large hole in the Irish receiving corps, and the absences of Chris Brown, Amir Carlisle, Corey Robinson and Alize Jones made that hole larger than simply losing the talent of an NFL first-rounder.
The inexperience at the wide receiver position was evident against Texas, especially after Torii Hunter Jr. was lost for the game with a concussion during the third quarter. But the group certainly does have the talent to make up for the current inexperience. The most talented of the bunch is Equanimeous St. Brown, the most intriguing may be CJ Sanders.
St. Brown is a former four-star recruit from Anaheim, California, and the early indication is that he will live up to the lofty expectations bestowed on him. His freshman year saw him appear in seven games before a shoulder injury during practice sidelined him for the final four contests of the season. St. Brown’s role was largely on special teams, and his most memorable play was blocking a punt against USC which was returned for a touchdown.
This season against Texas, St. Brown had a coming out party of sorts. He finished the night with five receptions for 75 yards and two scores. His 6-foot-5 frame allows him to be a threat in the red zone, and his speed enables him to be a deep threat as well.
While the world is looking to learn more about St. Brown’s play on the gridiron, there is plenty of information about him that’s rather interesting. For instance, his full name is Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown, but the wild tidbits don’t stop there. Aside from being the son of two-time Mr. Universe John Brown, he’s also fluent in three languages: English, German and French.
With Fuller leaving for the NFF, St. Brown is going to continue to capitalize on the opportunity given to him offensively. Entering this season, Hunter was the team’s leading returning receiver with a resume that truthfully wasn’t all that impressive. Hunter will certainly play a large role in the offense this season, but St. Brown is going to be the one with the brightest future.
The game against Texas was also put a national spotlight on receiver and return man CJ Sanders. Sanders had more of an impact on special teams last season as a freshman than St. Brown did, returning a punt and a kickoff for a score.
This season he will be featured more offensively. Against the Longhorns, Sanders was the recipient of three passes for 55 yards and a score via a tunnel screen on the first play of the first overtime period. He also amassed 75 yards on kickoff returns and 51 yards on punt returns, including a long of 40 yards. This brought his total to 181 all-purpose yards.
Sanders may be one of the most exciting players in the country with the ball in space, and certainly the shiftiest Notre Dame has seen in a while. While he doesn’t have the size of St. Brown, or even the departed Fuller, the 5-foot-8 Sanders does have the quickness and speed to make things work in a way Notre Dame fans aren’t used to seeing.
While Sanders might not have a name as cool as Equanimeous and isn’t trilingual to my knowledge, his past certainly is interesting as well. The California native boasts friends such as Jamie Foxx from his childhood as an actor. Sanders has nine acting credits in either television or movies to his name, most notably playing the childhood version of Ray Charles as a six-year-old in the movie “Ray”. He has also appeared in “Cold Case” and “Grey’s Anatomy”.
Sanders and St. Brown both have drastically different albeit interesting pasts, but currently they could become an extremely dangerous two-headed monster for Notre Dame.