Certain story lines and narratives have floated to the surface as we approach the Blue Gold Game, likely leaving a lingering aftertaste once the final whistle blows during the annual scrimmage.
Here’s a current glimpse into what we have seen/read/heard so far, along with a healthy dose of extrapolation and unrealistic expectations/hope (it’s spring after all) – with specific focus on the Irish wide receivers.
The wide receiver position group has been steadily featured in the Watch ND practice videos this spring, and invites a number of questions that will be intriguing to see answered come the fall. Fortunately, the questions are not of the “OH NOES, WHO WILL CATCH THE BALL?” but more along the lines of our typical, “Who will step up?” variety.
It almost feels like an annual tradition that we have a good spring season for our WR heir apparent(s) and a number of names surfacing both old and new to keep us guessing into the season. History tells us that BK will settle on 1-2 guys that will be feature dudes in the receiving corps – but damn if it doesn’t feel like we have a fleet of all-Americans now in April!
- Corey Holmes – So word out of camp is this guy is fast as all-get-the-heck-out-of-here. Is he Charlie Weis/Munir Prince “whoosh” fast? That remains to be seen (that was a fall camp reference, but work with me here). BK has already placed a qualifier that Holmes’ speed needs to translate onto the football field, but one has to be optimistic that this isn’t fool’s gold.
- Torii Hunter Jr. – exciting video highlights + positive feedback via BK press conference snippets + word of flexibility (i.e., we shouldn’t expect Hunter Jr. to be relegated to just the slot receiver position) gives many a Notre Dame fan heart palpitations. It sounds like a good problem to have, in that THJr can play anywhere on the field and we have the ability to mix and match guys based on what the defense is giving us. He would be the smart bet on the heir apparent as our go-to receiver for 2016 (if I wasn’t so enamored with E. St. Brown).
- Kevin Stepherson – NEW GUY ALERT! NEW GUY ALERT! Along with the trees that smell weird when they bloom in the spring, we have our annual tradition of naming a freshman who is making major noise within practice…only to never see them during the season. Again, not a bad problem to have and I’m not complaining. But Kevin Stepherson, with your acrobatic/athletic catches and your press conference praises, I hope you like the sidelines.
- Chris Finke – WALK ON ALERT! WALK ON ALERT! Chris Finke, with his speed/hustle/good looks has become the darling of the ND podcast circuit and practice report snippets – even getting video love from the FIDM team. The kid has some skills and if we are to believe the hype, he’ll earn a scholarship before his time is done. Now will he see the field?
- CJ Sanders – had to bow out early for surgery (bummer). Fans will be left wondering if he will be able to display more of the razzle dazzle he brought to the return game, in a WR capacity. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until fall camp for any indication.
Equilibrium Equidistant Egregious EvangelicalEquanimeous St. Brown – I personally have high hopes for this guy heading into 2016 as he showed flashes of brilliance in 2015 and was a Will Fuller away from being able to show his stuff last season. We haven’t seen much by way of glowing practice reports/video/press conference snippets that leads us to think that Elephantine is having a standout spring, but that’s not to say the dude isn’t making plays.
- Corey Robinson – Student body presidente, national anthem singing, entrepreneurial aspiring – the renaissance man that ND fans love to simultaneously brag about and to question. A minor set-back with a concussion, but reports/videos were steady in showing what Robinson was able to do before he suffered the injury (enough to keep the fans continuing to fret about his course load and its impact on his ability to run routes).
So you have a few guys banged up and not necessarily having remarkable springs, and a few names popping up that you expect (Hunter Jr.) and names you don’t (Stepherson). Sprinkle in a name you may have forgotten (Miles Boykin) and it’s a standard spring. Maybe in the B/G game, someone will make a host of plays that will introduce further questions in the mix. But the overall story on WR remains the same heading out of spring 2016. We have a lot of options and guys that can fill the void that was left behind after our featured WR and his veteran counterparts left, and that is a good thing – open questions and all.