The returning wide receivers to Brian Kelly’s new look Notre Dame Football team will see a different role from what they had under Charlie Weis. The old Notre Dame head coach had a very pass-happy offense built around now departed quarterback Jimmy Clausen and also departed wide receiver Golden Tate.
Now, both of those talented weapons are in the NFL, and the coach who counted on #7 and #23 is also in the NFL after being fired.
New head coach Brian Kelly faces the duty of revamping the Notre Dame offense. As head coach at Cincinnati, Kelly directed one of the best offenses in the NCAA. The Bearcats finished the season ranked sixth in passing offense, and 13th in passing offense.
Kelly was able to win with two different starting quarterbacks, Tony Pike and Zack Collaros, who took over for the injured Pike.
Now, Kelly has moved north to Indiana, and he has a different cast of characters to work with. Kelly’s new quarterback is the highly touted Dayne Crist, and his new quarterback will have some great targets to throw to.
Crist’s “go-to guy” shouldn’t be too hard to find. Returning to the Notre Dame offense is junior WR Michael Floyd. The Minneapolis native has made a name for himself after a pair of great seasons to start his career.
Entering 2010, Floyd should be a candidate for many awards and accolades. The big 6’3 target can jump to the moon, and has hands like glue.
In 2009, Floyd finished 66th in receiving yardage. Many of those receiving yards went to fellow receiver Golden Tate.
This season, expect Floyd to post a career best season. He has the size and athleticism to be the best receiver in the game.
After Floyd, the Irish return a mix of veterans buried in the old depth chart and young receivers looking to make a name for themselves.
Duval Kumara is second in receptions among returning Notre Dame receivers, and he had just 23 catches in ’09. Kumara stands at 6’5, making him the tallest receiver on the ND depth chart.
The senior has not lived up to his potential in a blue and gold uniform. With a wide open depth chart, Kumara will get his first good chance to shine.
Notre Dame also returns a pair of young receivers who have rose up the Notre Dame depth chart. Sophomore Shaquelle Evans and junior Deion Walker had numerous big catches during the 2009 season. With such open competition at receiver, each of these two targets should see many more reps.
One of three fifth year seniors on the Notre Dame roster, Barry Gallup Jr. has worked hard during his time at UND, and now has put himself in a position to see a lot of reps. The 5’11 senior returns as the elder statesman of the Irish receiving core, but he hopes to provide more than leadership.
With a new coach, Gallup has a new opportunity to impress. If the senior continues to work hard, he should emerge as a dependable wide receiver for the Irish.
The only freshman who has put himself in position for playing time is TJ Jones. The native of Gainesville, Georgia stands at 5’11 and weights 185 lbs. Jones has breakaway speed that makes him a playmaking threat. If given the opportunity, Jones could be a star during his time at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame’s depth chart is deep, and the competition is wide open. Expect a number of players to receive playing time during the 2010 season. Michael Floyd is the obvious superstar returning to the Irish offense, but after him, anybody can emerge. For now, we have to play the waiting game.
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