Former Notre Dame safety Brandon Joseph is at the NFL Combine this week as he prepares for the upcoming NFL Draft. During the question and answer portion of the Combine, Joseph was asked who he thought would be the top wide receiver for the Irish in 2023, and the NFL hopeful said he thought it would be rising sophomore Tobias Merriweather.
If Merriweather is the top receiver for the Irish this season, it would require a meteoric breakthrough from the talented, albeit inexperienced receiver. In 2022, Merriweather logged just 102 snaps and was targeted just eight times all season. That resulted in a single catch during his freshman season. That one catch was a 41-yard touchdown against Stanford, but it was still just one catch all year.
Merriweather’s lack of snaps and targets was one of the biggest complaints from Notre Dame fans last fall with former offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. Despite being in need of playmakers at the receiver position, Notre Dame was slow to get the athletic freshman involved in the mix. Inconsistent quarterback play and a lack of downfield passing due to the limitations at the position contributed to Merriweather’s lack of product. So too, did a late-season concussion that cost Merriweather multiple games.
With transfer quarter Sam Hartman now running the Irish offense, however, there is no excuse not to get a receiver with Merriweather’s skills on the field. Hartman can make all the throws and has the arm to stretch a defense vertically – something former quarterback Drew Pyne simply didn’t possess.
It would not be unprecedented for a Notre Dame sophomore receiver to explode in his second season after a quiet freshman campaign. Will Fuller caught 6 passes for 160 yards with a single touchdown in 2013 for Notre Dame with Rees as his quarterback. A year later, with Everett Golson as his quarterback, Fuller erupted for 1,094 yards and 15 TDs on 76 receptions. With Hartman in control of the Notre Dame offense, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Merriweather has a similar explosion this season.