Irish will get window into receiving future in spring

Irish will get window into receiving future in spring
January 11, 2014, 9:15 pm
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Two of Notre Dame's top three targets in 2013 won't be around this coming fall, and the third won't participate in spring practice due to an academic issue.

T.J. Jones and Troy Niklas combined to account for 45 percent of Notre Dame's receptions, 48 percent of the team's receiving yards and 52 percent of its receiving touchdowns in 2013. With DaVaris Daniels (49 receptions, 745 yards, 7 TDs) booted out of school for the spring semester, Notre Dame's spring practice will be an open showcase for a number of young receivers who will be counted on to make an impact this coming fall.

In addition to a talented, inexperienced crop of tight ends, there's Chris Brown, Corey Robinson, Will Fuller and Torii Hunter Jr. Four-star wide receiver recruit Justin Brent — rated as the No. 1 player in the state of Indiana — will enroll early and participate in spring practice, too.

There's plenty of hype in that group, but very little on-field success. Brown caught that 50-yard bomb at Oklahoma in 2012 and reeled in five passes in the Pinstripe Bowl but hasn't done much else.

[MORE: Nussmeier at Michigan a haunting thought for Notre Dame]

Robinson flashed potential as a deep threat but was generally counted on to only run fade and corner routes. He's a guy, though, that with added strength could quickly become an elite receiver.

"We see a remarkable frame to work with there, an intelligence that's a lot better than I thought it would be coming in," wide receivers coach/interim offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock said in December. "He's a mature kid for his age and is not in awe or daunted by any task that I give him to do. I think he's just going to continue to grow."

Fuller looked explosive at times but only had six catches (though those went for 160 yards).

Hunter suffered a broken leg a year ago and redshirted last fall, though coaches raved about his playmaking ability.

And then there's Brent, who reeled in 28 receiving touchdowns in his final three years at Speedway High School in Indianapolis.

The talent is there, and we'll get a decent indication of if it'll pan out into any success in a few months.