Since the departure of Michael Floyd, one of the biggest questions on offense has been who would fill in for his production. In 2012, that man wasn’t really a wide receiver as Tyler Eifert stole the show. In 2013, with both Floyd and Eifert now gone, the same question looms even larger.
However, I believe the answer is easier than most people think. If you’ve seen my roster rankings, you probably also know where I will be going with this as well.
Irish Player to Watch
T.J. Jones, Senior
5’11” 190 lbs.
Yes, we all know Eifert was the man that stood out in 2012, but I think most people will be rather surprised just how closely T.J. stacked up.[table “” not found /]
The production is practically identical. The dropoff in production is barely a yard per reception.
In his sophomore year, T.J. had 38 receptions for 366 yards and 3 TDs. He saw his yards/reception average jump from 9.6 to 13.0 in just one year, allowing him to nearly double his yardage production with only 12 more receptions.
Simply put, T.J. is the most consistent and reliable wide receiver on the Irish roster. He seems poised and ready for a breakthrough although the big question will be if he can continue this improvement without a star like Eifert having opposing defenses’ attention.
Bonus: He also swims with sharks (seriously).
Enemy Player to Watch
Marqise Lee, Junior, Southern Cal
6’0″, 195 lbs.
Being the returning Biletnikoff winner pretty much makes this pick automatic.
While he “only” had 5 receptions for 75 yards against the Irish last season, he absolutely terrorized just about every other defense in 2012 racking up an absurd 1721 yards and 14 TDs on 118 receptions. As if that isn’t enough, he was rather deadly on kickoff returns with 856 yards and 1 TD last season (for a 28.5 average).
The bottom line is that when you can account for 2,500 yards on your own, you are a force to be reckoned with.
Lee can be found on practically every offensive award watchlist, will likely get some Heisman buzz, and is on everyone’s pre-season All American team as well. He’ll likely also be on some mock drafts as the season progresses which is a good thing because I’d prefer to not have to worry about this* for another year:
*Thankfully, we can always remember Lee doing something awesome against ND and then having it not matter at all: