Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2018

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

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Page 34 of 47 FEBRUARY 2018 35 BY DAVID MCKINNEY Early on, the recruiting process of Portland (Ore.) Tigard wide receiver Braden Lenzy looked like it would be fairly conventional. The four-star prospect picked up an offer from Notre Dame on Dec. 10, 2016, and was on campus two months later for Junior Day Feb. 11. That visit impressed Lenzy in a big way, and the Oregon native pulled the trigger on a commitment 11 days later. Lenzy's recruiting process appeared to be over before his junior year of high school had ended, but commit- ments are written in pencil — not ink. Lenzy, an Oregon Class 6A 2016 state champion in 400 meters with a time of 47.92 seconds, fully intended to remain solid in his commitment to Notre Dame for both the football team and the track team. However, a few months later, he began to think that attending Notre Dame might not allow him to pursue track to the same degree as football. With those concerns on his mind, Lenzy announced he was flipping his commitment from Notre Dame to Or- egon June 14, and once again it looked like his college choice was made. Just like a prospect can switch a verbal commitment, college coaches can change jobs, and that's exactly what former Oregon head coach Wil- lie Taggart did when Florida State came calling in December. Following Taggart's departure, Lenzy was back on the market and headed to Notre Dame for an official visit for the weekend of the Echoes Awards Dec. 8-10. According to Lenzy, that weekend offered a moment of clarity he hadn't experienced elsewhere. "When I went on my official, just being on the field in the snow and getting a feel for everything, it just gave me that feeling of home," he said. "It felt like the right decision. I saw myself playing there." Even though he had visited Notre Dame once before, and felt good enough about the program to com- mit, the USA Today first-team All-Or- egon wide receiver said he'd grown up a lot in the time between trips to South Bend. "I'd say I'm a lot more focused and mature [than the first time I commit- ted to the Irish]," Lenzy said. "I saw Notre Dame in more of a light than I did before. They were already great, and it seemed like the best-case sce- nario of all the offers I had. "They have the most to give, and they have the same ambitions that I do. It's a perfect fit." The visit went as well as it could have gone. Notre Dame reportedly laid out the plan for Lenzy to run track, thus eliminating the concerns that caused him to back out of his initial pledge. However, Lenzy had been commit- ted to in-state Oregon for six months and still had some thinking to do. With the early signing period ap- proaching, he turned off his phone, hopped in the car and headed for the ocean to clear his mind. "I went to my friend's beach house, I logged off Twitter and I wasn't con- tacting coaches," Lenzy said. "It was just me and my good friend, just chilling and doing our thing, and that allowed me to really think." With no distractions around, Lenzy was able to sit down and weigh all his options, consider his future and make a final decision. "I kept going back and forth with Notre Dame and Oregon, and I got to really think about everything that was best for me," Lenzy said. "I think around [Dec. 20] was when I really knew I was going to be signing with Notre Dame." That happened to be the first day of the early signing period. Lenzy quietly signed his National Letter of Intent to Notre Dame that day and announced his commitment two days later. During the period of his first pledge to Notre Dame, Lenzy became good friends with several members of the class and was immediately welcomed back in. "My first thing was, 'Did they even want me back?'" Lenzy said. "They showed me that they did, and I was excited about that. "It was just like picking up where we started. Everyone was welcom- ing, and it felt right. It felt smooth and didn't feel awkward at all." In Lenzy, Notre Dame is picking up a player with speed few possess. Heading into his senior track season, he holds the sixth fastest time in Or- egon history in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.34 seconds. Lenzy won the Under Armour iLL- SPEED regional in Los Angeles in February, besting Amon-Ra St. Brown, the nation's No. 1 wide receiver. ✦ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths Braden Lenzy is arguably the fastest wide receiver Notre Dame has signed under head coach Brian Kelly … His elite, game-breaking speed is something the Irish desperately needed in this class … Uses speed to get separation as a route runner, but also to rip off big plays in the screen game … Has quick feet and shows good change of direction ability, which helps him as a route runner and when making moves in the screen game … Tracks the deep ball well and shows confidence in his hands … Thin player, but he's physical for his size and more than willing to mix it up. Areas Of Improvement Has to continue filling out his lean frame and adding weight room strength … Made strides as a route runner as a senior but more work is needed … Tends to drift on out cuts and must continue working on sinking his hips on stop routes. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE BRADEN LENZY Speedy Oregon Receiver Takes Unique Path To Notre Dame Rivals rates Lenzy — who has run a 4.47 40-yard dash and has also excelled on the track, winning a state championship in the 400 meters — as a four-star talent, the No. 3 prospect in Oregon and the No. 13 athlete nationally. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

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