Notre Dame lost a member of the 2017 Fighting Irish on Monday afternoon when Tristen Hoge transferred to BYU. That open roster spot was open for all of a couple hours before Notre Dame announced the graduate transfer of Arizona State wide receiver Cameron Smith – a deep threat who will add more speed to a deep wide receiving corps.
Cameron Smith had what looked like a promising career at Arizona State before an injury robbed him of his junior season in 2015. Smith, a lightly recruit receiver out of Coppell, Texas; hauled in 41 passes for 596 yards with six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2014.
Smith’s promising sophomore campaign included a four catch, 67 yard performance capped off with a touchdown in Arizona State’s 55-31 victory over the Irish in Tempe. But really, name a wide receiver who faced a Brian VanGorder coached defense the last three years that didn’t have a career day.
Smith wasn’t able to regain his position in 2016 in his first year back from the injury and finished his senior season with just 11 catches for 183 yards while playing in eight games.
Smith Joins Crowded Notre Dame WR Corps
The addition of Smith is a bit curious given the depth Notre Dame has at the position heading into 2017. Equanimeous St. Brown, Kevin Stepherson, CJ Sanders, Chris Finke, Chase Claypool, Miles Boykin, and Javon McKinley form a deep and talent core. Incoming freshman Michael Young and Jafar Armstrong report to campus soon to begin their careers as Notre Dame wide receivers
Smith and Freddy Canteen, a Michigan graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining, will join the mix in fall camp. Both will be eligibility immediately as graduate transfers.
Smith’s biggest asset, when fully healthy, is his speed. Given all of the size that Notre Dame has in the form of St. Brown, Claypool, and Boykin; it’s possible Notre Dame was just looking to add more speed to the group for Chip Long’s offense. Canteen is also known for his speed and the Irish have been targeting speedy wide receivers on the recruiting trail as well recently.
Smith figures to most likely challenge Kevin Stepherson as the deep threat in this offense while Canteen is expected to challenge Sanders and Finke in the slot. As the cloud of uncertainty around Stepherson that lingered all spring continues to hang, Smith’s addition very well could be an insurance policy of sorts.
Notre Dame Staff Knows Cameron Smith Well
While Brian Kelly got an up close look at Cameron Smith in Sun Devil Stadium two years ago, a pair of assistants that weren’t on the staff in 2014 know the new Notre Dame wide receiver even better. Chip Long was the tight ends coach at Arizona State in 2014 and the recruiting coordinator for the Sun Devils when Smith was originally recruited.
New wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander was on the staff with Long in 2014 and stayed on staff with Arizona State after Long left for the Memphis OC job in 2016. Alexander worked even more closely with Smith at Arizona State as the wide receivers coach in 2014. This past season Alexander was still on the staff when Smith returned from injury but worked with the Sun Devil tight ends.
Transfers In/Transfers Out
It has been a busy offseason on the transfer market for Notre Dame. Smith and Canteen are two incoming graduate transfers Notre Dame lured to South Bend. Defensive tackle Scott Pagano was the one that got away on the transfer market for the Irish though.
Notre Dame has also lost three non-graduate transfers so far as well with Hoge joining Josh Barajas and Spencer Perry on Monday.
The Irish lost five graduate transfers this offseason as well. Malik Zaire, Corey Holmes, Justin Brent, Colin McGovern, and John Montelus. Of the five though, only Zaire would have challenged for starting roles this fall.
Notre Dame’s roster is now back at 85 and barring any other departures there shouldn’t be any more additions with eligibility for the fall.