Notre Dame Cross Training Jeremiyah Love at Receiver

Cross-training a versatile playmaker on offense, at both running back and receiver, has become an almost annual rite of passage for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. This year, sophomore running back Jeremiyah Love has assumed that role for the Fighting Irish, undergoing cross-training as a slot receiver while also competing for a lead back position to fill the void left by the NFL-bound Audric Estime.

Here’s a glimpse of Love in action as a receiver earlier this spring.

Cross training as a slot wide receiver makes a ton of sense for a back like Love because it can significantly benefit a running back by fully utilizing their versatility and skill set. It improves their understanding of route running, enabling them to exploit gaps in the defense more effectively. By learning to read coverages and adjust routes accordingly, they become more adept at finding open space to receive passes – something Jeremiyah Love is already very good at at. This not only diversifies their role on the field but also adds an element of unpredictability to the offense, making it harder to defend against. For Notre Dame, this potentially gives the Irish the ability to create some interesting looks with Love and Jadarian Price in multiple back sets.

Cross-training as a slot wide receiver also enhances their hands and catching ability, crucial for making receptions in traffic or on screen passes. Additionally, it can boost agility, footwork, and spatial awareness, which can translate into improved elusiveness and open-field running as a running back.

Jeremiyah Love’s Freshman Season

In 2023, as a freshman, Jeremiyah Love emerged as a versatile contributor for his team, despite a crowded backfield, appearing in all 13 games and making significant impacts across multiple facets of the game. He showcased his speed and agility as a running back, accumulating 385 rushing yards over the season, ranking second on the team. Love’s explosiveness was highlighted by his 36-yard touchdown run against Tennessee State, the longest of his season. Additionally, he displayed receiving skills, hauling in eight receptions for 77 yards, including a touchdown catch in the Sun Bowl. Love’s versatility extended to special teams, where he returned kicks, averaging 21.0 yards per return.

Throughout the season, Love demonstrated his ability to perform under pressure and in various game situations as a true freshman. He made his collegiate debut in Dublin, Ireland, showcasing his potential with a game-high 21-yard rush against Navy. Love’s contributions continued to grow as the season progressed, culminating in his first career start in the Sun Bowl with Estime opting out, where he played a pivotal role in securing the victory.

Despite facing formidable defenses such as Ohio State and Clemson, Love consistently made his presence felt on the field when given opportunities, averaging an impressive 5.4 yards per carry throughout the season. His total of 504 all-purpose yards underscored his value as a dynamic playmaker for the Fighting Irish. As Love’s freshman campaign concluded, his performances hinted at a promising future and cemented his status as a key asset for the team moving forward.

Here is that touchdown run against Tennessee State that conjured up memories of Ricky Watters slashing through a defense in the #12 jersey. Watters was also a very accomplished pass catcher and started his Notre Dame career as receiver before moving to running back full-time.

Past Notre Dame Running Backs Cross Training

Love isn’t the first player Notre Dame has cross-trained in this manner. There’s a long line of skill position players that Notre Dame has done this with in the past. Theo Riddick bounced around between running back and receiver throughout his collegiate career before translating that versatility into a successful NFL career, primarily with the Detroit Lions.

During new offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock’s last stint at Notre Dame, CJ Prosise moved from safety to receiver to running back over the course of his Notre Dame career. Prosise worked in reverse order as Love, starting first at receiver in 2014 while racking up 29 receptions for 516 yards and 2 touchdowns. After primarily transitioning to running back in 2015, Prosise remained a weapon in the passing game with 26 catches for 308 yards.

Avery Davis played almost every skill position one can throughout his career, but he transitioned from running back to receiver later in his career, although his stint at running back was more necessitated by need rather than being best suited for the position.

Most recently, Chris Tyree spent the first three years of his Notre Dame career as a running back before cross-training as a slot receiver just last spring. By fall camp, the move was full-time for him. He hauled in 26 passes for 484 yards with 3 touchdowns for the Irish in 2023.

Time will tell if this is merely an experiment the Irish are attempting in the spring, or if a full-time move to receiver happens at some point in Love’s career, similar to the paths taken by Davis and Tyree.

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