Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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20 JUNE/JULY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI A pass catcher going from little used (if at all) one year to be- coming a top target the next is a common occurrence at Notre Dame. Last year was another example with both Miles Boykin and Chris Finke. Boykin more than tripled his receiv- ing output from his first three seasons while becoming a third-round selec- tion in the 2019 NFL Draft, while Finke went from six catches in 2017 to 49 in 2018. In the 10 years prior, the program has seen especially dramatic ascents from freshman to sophomore year: • Equanimeous St. Brown snagged one pass as a freshman in 2015 — and then a team-high 58 as a sophomore. • Will Fuller had just six grabs as a 2013 freshman — and then 76 with a single-season school-record 15 touch- down catches as a sophomore. • DaVaris Daniels was redshirted as a freshman in 2011 — and then snared 31 catches as a regular for the 2012 unit that advanced to the national title game. • Golden Tate also caught only six passes as a 2007 freshman — and then hauled in 58 for 1,080 yards and 10 scores a year later. It is highly unlikely that with the return of Finke, senior Chase Clay- pool — whom head coach Brian Kelly described as a bona fide first-round prospect this spring — and emerging junior Michael Young that such a dra- matic spike will occur for the promis- ing sophomore contingent at wideout and tight end in 2019. However, their progress this spring was encouraging enough to third-year offensive coordi- nator Chip Long that a stronger rota- tion can be in place than in 2018, when Boykin, Claypool and Finke monopo- lized the snaps. "Those three guys were pretty dead by the time we got to USC [in the reg- ular-season finale], and that's just kind of the way it was," Long said. "… If guys are making plays we'll find ways to get them the ball in all kind of dif- ferent ways. I just have to see them do it live, in a game, and their roles will grow from there." Perhaps no one in the sophomore class possesses more promise than 6-2, 210-pound Kevin Austin, who grabbed five passes for 90 yards last season. For now, the enigmatic young man has been a cross between tight end Alizé CATCHING UP … AND ON The youth at wide receiver and tight end will try to help take the offense to a higher level Among the large sophomore pass-catching corps, Lawrence Keys III in the slot had one of the more con- sistent springs when it came to health and production. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

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