Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2019

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

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10 DECEMBER 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME UNDER THE DOME Throughout head coach Brian Kelly's 10-year tenure, no single position has won more Team MVP awards than wide receiver: Michael Floyd (2010-11), TJ Jones (2013), Will Fuller (2015), and possibly Chase Claypool in 2019. Plus, Equanimeous St. Brown turned pro after his junior season in 2017, and Miles Boykin became a third-round selection after a superb 2018 campaign. Who will be the standout to carry the torch into the next decade? Speedster Braden Lenzy? Would Ja- von McKinley return for a fifth season and another try? How much can 2020 five-star recruit Jordan Johnson help? If all business is taken care of off the field through next spring, sum- mer and August, then the answer just might be current sophomore wide receiver Kevin Austin, who is on an "unofficial" season-long suspension, but he has remained in school and starred for the scout team. "Our defensive coaches feel like he's the best player over there, and he's been outstanding in everything that we've asked him to do," Kelly said when asked about the progress of the 6-2, 210-pound Coconut Creek, Fla., native the week of the regular-season finale at Stanford. "Every challenge that has been put in front of him, and he's had numerous — and I repeat, numerous. "He has succeeded at each one of those challenges. Good things on the horizon for him." With Claypool and Chris Finke out of eligibility after this season and junior Michael Young transferring, Aus- tin will be counted on to make a significant impact in 2020. Ranked as the No. 88 overall player nationally by Rivals in 2018, he was the top prospect among the five sophomore wideouts signed that season, joining Lenzy, Lawrence Keys III, Joe Wilkins and Micah Jones. No one in that group was more physically ready to com- pete at this level than Austin, who snagged five passes for 90 yards as a 2018 freshman while the other four redshirted. Through 11 games in 2019, Keys grabbed 12 passes for 126 yards, but Lenzy's game-breaking speed has caught far more attention. His eight catches have averaged 24.9 yards, highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown versus Navy, and on jet sweeps he's had 51- and 61-yard scoring gallops versus USC and Boston College, respectively. Also expected to compete in track, Lenzy skipped that sport last spring because of the realization he had to get much stronger to compete at the collegiate level in football. Even in 2019, some injuries, including a concussion and what Kelly labeled as "fatigue," have held him back. Lenzy admitted he was more in the 160-pound range as a freshman, but by skipping track and intently devot- ing himself to the strength and condi- tioning program under Matt Balis, he at one point was up to 183 pounds. "Last year changed my mindset," Lenzy said. "I realized I had to do a lot more, I couldn't just be 'the fast guy.' Even though I am the fast guy, there are a lot of parts of my game that have vastly improved. I realized you can't come to college to do one thing. You have to do a lot because everyone is good. "Last year I was happy. We were 12-0 and in the college playoff. I was extremely excited and I honestly took a lot of pride being on the scout team because I felt I really helped that defense — and now it's really cool to help out the offense." Speed kills …but it has to be augmented by football strength and savvy as well. "Last year it was very difficult for me to even go with the twos," Lenzy said. "From a football standpoint, I wasn't ready, clear, cut and dry. "Now I stand out in the games … I need to do what Notre Dame goes by — be gritty every day." — Lou Somogyi Injury Report • Senior wide receiver Javon McKinley was not listed on the two-deep chart released by Notre Dame for the Stanford finale. He suffered a foot injury at Duke Nov. 9. • Sophomore defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola has been evaluated day to day after incurring an ankle sprain versus Navy Nov. 16. He was withheld from action versus Boston College Nov. 23 after struggling in warm-ups, but there was more optimism that he would be ready to see some action at Stanford Nov. 30. • Head coach Brian Kelly indicated that senior right guard Tommy Kraemer, who suffered a knee sprain at Michigan Oct. 26, has been pretty much ruled out from playing in a bowl game too. The hope is he will be cleared for full work in the spring. — Lou Somogyi Senior right guard Tommy Kraemer's knee sprain is expected to keep him out of Notre Dame's bowl game. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS Austin has remained in school and starred for the scout team while serving an "unofficial" season-long suspen- sion this year. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Kevin Austin Is Among The Sophomore Wideouts Needed In 2020

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