News broke on Friday that junior wide receiver Michael Young will explore the transfer portal. Some reports went a step further and definitively stated that Young has played his final game for the Fighting Irish. Here are some quick thoughts on the potential loss of a promising wide receiver.
Young’s skills were not being utilized in this offense
Michael Young has six receptions on the year for 21 yards. Most of his catches are happening at the line of scrimmage or behind it. That’s not his game. He’s a vertical receiver who showed he could make plays on contested catches. That skillset simply hasn’t been utilized in this offense. In fact, that skill set hasn’t been utilized for any of Notre Dame’s receivers because the vertical passing game has been virtually non-existent in this offense in 2019.
If he does leave, it will be a shame because Young has a lot of talent and could have been a great wide receiver for the Irish. This staff and this offensive system just weren’t able to utilize his skills.
More opportunities for Lawrence Keys and Braden Lenzy
Notre Dame’s two speedy sophomore wide receivers stand to gain the most with Young potentially leaving. Lenzy looked insanely fast while outrunning the USC defense two weeks ago, and Keys has flashed at time this season. The future might be now for one – or both – of them with Young staying home this weekend as Notre Dame travels to Michigan.
Lenzy is more of an outside wide receiver than Keys, so he might get the first crack at replacing Young. Javon McKinley could as well. We’ve seent he senior flash against lesser opponents while not getting much time against the better teams. His experience and size could earn him a start tomorrow night under the lights of Michigan Stadium.
Whoever starts, hopefully, the Irish staff learned the lesson in the failed experiment of moving Chris Finke outside when Young was injured this summer.
Notre Dame has a glut of wide receiver talent coming in
Should Young ultimately decide on transferring, Notre Dame has plenty of incoming star power at the position in the next two recruiting cycles.
- Jordan Johnson (2020 – 5-star)
- Xavier Watts (2020 – 4-star)
- Jay Brunelle (2020 – 3-star)
- Deion Colzie (2021 – 4-star)
- Lorenzo Styles Jr (2021 – 4 star)
That is a ton of potential playmakers at the position, so the Irish will not be short on playmakers next year and beyond. They will be short on experience, though. Without Young, Notre Dame’s starting receivers in 2020 will be entirely different than the projected starters heading into 2019.
Kevin Austin & Javon McKinley will be called on in 2020
Young could have potentially been a WR1 in 2020 for Notre Dame with Chase Claypool and Chris Finke out of eligibility. If Young doesn’t return, look for Kevin Austin to play a larger role as he comes back from “suspension” and for the likely return of 5th year senior Javon McKinley. With Young not available, McKinley has a golden opportunity over the next six weeks to make a strong case for returning for a 5th year.
If Kevin Austin is as good as advertised when he returns from exile, a wide receiving trio comprised of some combination of Austin, McKinley, Keys, Lenzy, and probably Johnson should still be pretty damn good.