Notre Dame, IN (UHND.com) – Senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija broke Derrick Mayes’s Notre Dame career receiver touchdown mark of 22 in Saturday’s 45-26 win over North Carolina. Considering some of the wide receivers to play for the Irish, Samardzija’s mark is definitely impressive, but what makes it even more impressive is the fact that Samardzija basically broke the record in 21 games.
Samardzija burst onto the scene last year as a junior with an acrobatic touchdown grab in the season opener against Pittsburgh and hasn’t slowed down since. He would go on to score 15 total touchdowns last year after starting the season with just seven career receptions in his first two seasons.
Heading into last season, Samardzija wasn’t even supposed to be a starter until Rhema McKnight went down with an injury. Said head coach Charlie Weis Saturday, “When we got here, he was a backup and he became our third receiver. And then Rhema went down and he became our second receiver, and by the end of the year he was our first receiver.”
While Samardzija’s record breaking career is a testament to his own skill and determination, it’s also a testament to the offense that Charlie Weis has brought to Notre Dame with him.
Prior to Weis’s arrival, the record for single season touchdowns at Notre Dame was 11. In not even two full seasons, three different receivers have accomplished that feat – Samardzija had a record 15 in 2005, Maurice Stovall had 11 in 2005, and already this season Rhema McKnight has 11 with three games remaining. Samardzija himself could also eclipse that mark again this year with eight touchdowns through nine games.
In the 21 games of the Weis Era at Notre Dame, the starting receivers have combined for 45 touchdowns for an average of 2.15 touchdowns per game. Samardzija has account for 23 of those for an average of 1.10 touchdowns a game. At that pace, Samardzija would end his Notre Dame career with 27 touchdowns. How long will that record stand with Weis in town though?
Derrick Mayes owned the only double digit receiving touchdown season in the history of Notre Dame football prior to Weis’s arrival last year. By the end of this season, there should be five such seasons including Mayes’s 1994 season with 11 scores.
With the new high powered offense Weis has installed for the Irish the number of offense records that have been broken are too numerous to mention and they will continue to fall the longer Weis is roaming the Notre Dame sidelines.
“Imagine, if you give me these guys for two more years, I’ll take them and see what numbers they can really throw up, because they really threw these numbers up in the last two years,” said Weis on Saturday referring to Samardzija and Notre Dame’s record setting quarterback Brady Quinn.
Recruits like wide receiver Duval Kamara and quarterback Jimmy Clausen, both of whom are already committed to Notre Dame, must be imagining that same thing. One would think that some of the other highly touted receivers would be imagining this as well, but despite the success of the Notre Dame receivers, the nation’s elite receivers are lining up to play for the Irish as most thought.
Kamara was an outstanding start to wide receiver recruiting for the Irish this year, but thus far he is the only commitment for Notre Dame at the position.
The nation’s top wide receiver Arrelious Benn, once considering a lock for Notre Dame, is now considered a long shot for the Irish according to the vast majority of the message boards out there. Another top receiver prospect, Greg Little, announced he was down to North Carolina and Notre Dame a few weeks back, but has yet to announce his decision.
If these last 21 games of the Weis Era have shown us anything, its that Weis will get the most out of his offensive talent and that his receivers will put up big numbers.