Notre Dame Has Depth to Handle Equanimeous St. Brown’s NFL Departure

Thursday was not a good day for Notre Dame football.  As a bomb cyclone was hammering the East coast with a winter blast, a bomb cyclone of its own was going off within the Notre Dame football program.  Thursday afternoon we learned that after an unsuccessful run at Mike Elko in December, Texas A&M threw a bunch of money at Notre Dame’s now former defensive coordinator leaving the Irish in search of a new defensive leader.  Thursday night we learned that junior wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was leaving early for the NFL.  In this case, however, the Irish aren’t left in scramble mode.

Heading into the season it was assumed that St. Brown might head to the NFL after nearly topping 1,000 yards a sophomore.  Then the 2017 season unfolded and St. Brown fell off drastically in also every single receiving department as Notre Dame struggled to move the football in the air during Brandon Wimbush’s first year as a starter.  Even with stats that don’t scream high NFL Draft pick though, St. Brown has decided to leave early for the NFL.

Unlike the loss of Elko which has Notre Dame back at the drawing board defensively, the good news here is Notre Dame has a lot of talent at wide receiver.  And, as long as they have someone who can get those wide receivers the ball, they will be in fine shape at receiver in the fall even without St. Brown, CJ Sanders who decided to use a graduate transfer for his senior season earlier this week, and Kevin Stepherson who has almost certainly played his last game with the Irish following his latest arrest.

Here’s a quick look at who Notre Dame has on the roster heading into next year.

  • Chase Claypool – By the end of the season Claypool was starting to develop as a receiver before a shoulder injury cost him the Citrus Bowl.  Claypool could miss time in the spring as well, but he will be back at full strength for fall camp and is primed for a breakout junior season.
  • Miles Boykin – The senior to be was the star of the Citrus Bowl with the catch of the year in college football. Was it a breakthrough performance or a blip?  There have been a lot of promising reports on Boykin over the last two years in spring and fall camp but it didn’t materialize on the field until Monday.  A big senior season could be in the cards.
  • Chris Finke – The former walkon likely won’t challenge for a starting position, but he is a reliable target who came up with a big catch on Notre Dame’s game winning drive against LSU.
  • Michael Young – The freshman scored the first touchdown of his career on Monday in an increased role thanks to Stepherson’s absence.  An even bigger role as a sophomore seems likely if not certain.
  • Javon McKinley – A redshirt season this fall seemed odd, but McKinley was a highly touted prospect just two years ago and will be heavily in the mix.  With Claypool possibly limited in the spring, McKinley could be seeing reps with the first unit in March.
  • Jafar Armstrong – Redshirted this fall as a freshman but surprised in fall camp.
  • Freddy Canteen – Injuries limited him in his first season after his graduate transfer from Michigan, but he has another year left.

If I had to guess right now, I would put my money on Claypool, Boykin, and Michael Young being in the starting lineup against Michigan.  That would be a lot of new faces in the starting lineup, but wouldn’t be that much different than 2014 when Notre Dame started Will Fuller, Corey Robinson, and CJ Prosise for much of the year despite none having much experience heading into the season.

On top of those receivers already on the roster, Notre Dame has hit wide receiver recruiting out of the park this year. The Irish added three high quality receivers with Kevin Austin, Micah Jones, and Braden Lenzy.  Jones is a massive target in the mold of Boykin and is an early enrollee so he will get a jumpstart on his classmates.  Austin could be the most complete receiver Notre Dame has landed since Michael FloydLenzy is a speed demon who will almost certainly see the field as a freshman at this point as a deep threat.  All are four star prospects

In addition to the trio of talent incoming frosh at receiver.  Notre Dame is still holding out some slight hope that St. Brown’s younger brother Amon Ra St. Brown decides that he wants to try to take his older brother’s place in the Notre Dame lineup and picks Notre Dame over USC and Stanford at the All-American Bowl on Saturday.  The more likely addition to the class, however, is Lawrence Keys from Louisiana though Notre Dame is also making a hard push for Texas 4-star receiver Tommy Bush as well.

In short, Notre Dame is not short on numbers or potential impact receivers for 2018 even though they will be without at least two and most likely three receivers from the 2017 roster when Michigan comes to town on September 1.

As for St. Brown, the move to leave early for the NFL is certainly a gamble.  He is not considered to be a top o the draft prospect at this point based on his collegiate production so he will need to wow scouts with his measurables at the combine at in workouts.

Notre Dame is still waiting on decisions from Tevon Coney, Jerry Tillery, and Josh Adams on their NFL futures as well.  Thursday’s other news on Elko likely makes the decisions of Tillery and Coney a bit more complicated though.


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  1. The remaining receiver corps doesn’t look too promising to me …. a group that was a weak link all season with the exception of Stepherson, who is now gone.

    1. Receivers can’t catch what isn’t in their vicinity. The WR play could have been better, but the QB situation was the root cause of many of those struggles. If accuracy at the QB position improves, Notre Dame has the talent at WR to have a very good passing offense.

      1. Just lost out on ARSB!

        Will probably be seeing him run past ND DBs for the next three years!

  2. The 40 year decision worked out for me for all 40 years and everywhere in the country. It’s a national degree, no question. I got every single job I applied for, sometimes up against others with more experience and or tight “local connections”. And I was always told the same thing by the Board Member or Administrator that hired me…”It was a really close decision Mr. Curme, but we decided to go with your educational background…you were the unique one.” I am not kidding you or exaggerating. And I started work the day after commencement in May of ’77 and never spent more than two weeks unemployed, even during some really bad recessions. Even when I changed my career path completely and radically in 1985, I still got the job, with next to no experience in my new area. So for me, it was more than worth it. And I achieved every goal I set for myself, including coaching three State Championship Academic Competition Teams and three more state runners ups…because I got the student raw talent to sign up and work for me because they respected the degree I had. Those kids had no idea where their other teachers and coaches went to college…but they all knew I went to Notre Dame. Now, full disclosure, I did not make a lot of money, I never prospered financially, but I was OK with that. I was compensated in other ways – especially good health care insurance, which I and my wife needed, and a decent state guaranteed pension, which is getting pretty rare today, and unbeatable vacation time. So that’s my testimonial.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  3. To those under the delusion that ND is still a “career pinnacle” job, and Elko deserves your wrath for his ‘greed’ and ‘selfishness’:

    Kelly interviewed to leave after his 3rd season. Embarrassed the university on the very biggest stage because he was busy with his agent.
    Obviously, that didn’t work out, and now, due to well-documented issues and utter failure since, he won’t be going anywhere of his own volition. But regardless of that context, there remains an utterly disloyal opportunist turncoat at the helm of the ND football program.

    And you’re mad at Elko ?!?

  4. Ron Burgundy, you remain, as always, the undisputed Master of Brevity.
    God bless us everyone indeed.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  5. Fat Eddy of the Rock! Duranko, rest assured that every single fac brat of that era knew how to get through the required nude shower before entering the pool area without being observed by Fat Eddy. A survival skill. The image in my brain you left with Fat Eddy breeding Shirley would be highly disturbing, even at my age, if it wasn’t downright hilarious. Henceforth you sir, are an honorary fac brat for life,

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. I took your dad’s Stat class, Bruce.

      He was a master of statistics and yet made it vibrant.

      And you, of course, know your dad better than I did. While he was deft at “Chebyshev’s Inequality” and related flotsam and jetson of
      the dark and enlightened statistical arts, he was, well “impish.” And somehow I guess Gregg might have chuckled at this
      visual, disturbing, grotesque, or whatever!

      Happy new year, my man!

      1. A lot of the players took his class. It was required for about six different majors and he worked closely with DiCicco to keep you guys on track especially during the summer sessions. ARA always appreciated that. Thanks for the kind words Pete.

        PS: He always thought the ’66 team was the best ND team he ever saw.

        BGC ’77 ’82

      1. Best of luck to Elko too! Best of luck to Kelly on finding a good replacement for defensive coordinator and best of luck to you David!

      2. Elko is a money grubbing whore. let the slut go.

        No, “lynch mob” is a phrase used SOLELY by latent or patent racists.

        Elko is not the worst money grubbing whore of all time at ND. that goes to an alum.

        Once, and Curme may wish to comment, there was an urban legend that bore a creepy resemblance to the
        whelping of “GarP” in John Irving’s book. The legend was that Fat Shirley, she of the Trucker’s Special at the
        glorious eatery at the corner of Twyckenham and Mishawaka,
        and Fat Eddie of the Rock, got together,
        let bygones be bygones and made a baby. The time was eerily close to the birth date of the larcenous Notre Dame
        coach who served after Willingham and before Kelly.

        We report, you decide!

    1. St. Brown’s greatest play was the punt block against USC as a frosh. He looked like a giant praying mantis as he went up and over the protectors to block the punt.

      I hope he does well. He has the athleticism. Some players are built more the NFL than for college.

      While Mr. St. Brown was one of the great parent interviews of all time, I will shed no tears as we bid adieu to the St. Brown;s.

      I hope Osiris hangs the moon in Palo Alto, for 11 games a year and that Amon Ra hangs the moon at USC, for 11 games a year.

      But I exhale and breathe a sigh of relief as we and the St. Browns part ways.

      Here’s how I like my receivers: Kevin Austin and Micah Jones. And, yes, Virginia, even Braden Lenzy, who, net net, was not as dramatic as others.

      I like this upcoming receiving corps. It will be fun to watch them further develop.

      1. I love this receiving group, especially after that catch in the Citrus Bowl. Sometimes in big on big games it comes down to “who wants it the most?”…of those three players on that play, we know the answer to that question! And man, did he ever go up and get it! We need more of that stuff, and we’ll be just fine next year. Big time players make big time plays in big games. Always has been that way.

        BGC ’77 ’82

  6. ST. BROWN has made his decision respect it! His brother wasn’t coming to ND anyway. Time to give QB job to JUROVEC! The receivers will b better with real QB, ST. BROWN will not b missed.

  7. Funny how there’s a lynch mob out against Elko (a professional0 coach, for those who need to be reminded), saying how he’s a money-grubbing mercenary …but here’s a kind who, like many others, leaves school early to go pro and make millions, before he graduates, leaving his teammates in a bind.

    And HE gets a pass.
    Give your heads a shake, hypocrites.
    People come, people go. Get over it.

    1. The hypocricy is that coaches can jump schools with no penalty whatsoever yet players–even those who haven’t played a down yet but signed a LOI have to sit out a year if they want to do the same thing. Furthermore, I’m not about to send a “lynch mob” (to use your hackneyed phrase) against a PLAYER who wants to leave early and earn a life-altering salary, especially since the PLAYERS are the ones putting their bodies on the line game after game. And the onus isn’t on the PLAYERS to decide to stay another year if the program hasn’t recruited well enough to adequately fill his role after he’s gone.

      1. So the free ND education isn’t worth it. Fine.
        Maybe someday, some of them will clue the others in and they’ll all quit. As the men of free will they all are.

        Meanwhile, you’ll agree that that tired, feeble excuse — the lifelong value of an ND degree, the much ballyhooed “40 year decision” —- is BS and should be buried for good.
        The kids that play football for ND are just used like slaves and abused for their talent.
        They leave with nothing but a worthless sheepskin, bad knees and bitterness.

    2. Well one is a kid who came to nd to give him opportunities to make a good living. Now he feels ready to cash in. I don’t personally feel he showed enough this year and could but bolster his stock tremendously by returning. Still, cfb is a full time job plus being a student at nd can be a full time job…and there is no compensation. Definitely support athletes getting paid.
      Not knocking elko if the pay was considerably more but don’t see the logic in saying why knock a high paid professional getting paid more for leaving but not knock an unpaid athlete for wanting to get paid

    3. Except St. Brown has been honest and open about the possibility that he might leave all along. Maybe Elko was, maybe not. How should I know? It’s not hypocrisy to wish St. Brown good fortune…to me, he left on good terms and in no way blindsided anyone at all that I can think of. He was a comrade to the end wasn’t he? I never heard anything different.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  8. Bummed that he would leave to be a 5th or 6th round pick, but I get it.

    Give me Claypool, McKinley, and Young as the starters on September 1. I don’t think any frosh WR’s start the opener vs. Michigan.

    I’m still a big believer in McKinley.

  9. I’ll miss St. Brown catching td’s vs. the Trojans. I think He should stay and bulk up a bit. But, We have plenty of replacements who will pick up the slack. Don’t worry about getting the ball to them. Wimbush couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn.

  10. Yeah, WR’s aren’t an area I’m too worried about. I figured St. Brown would leave for the NFL so no big surprise here and ND has good depth at WR.

    Elko’s loss is far, far worse. That is the loss that will cost ND the most.

  11. The receivers are really good imo. The bigger issue is finding a qb that can throw it accurately and consistently.

    1. …with a strong constitution and unshakeable self-confidence, able to ignore and deflect all the Kelly sideline antics and BS.

      1. Gott is obviously phonetic spelling. What isn’t obvious is that he recognizes that it is actually God.

        Land is clearly used in lieu of country for some ideological reason or another. Let me guess.

        Notre Dame. One out of three. He gets a trophy.

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