There is a little more than a month remaining in the 2018 recruiting cycle, with Notre Dame left with four spots to fill. They hope to have a least one of those spots occupied by elite wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who listed Notre Dame as one of three finalists on Christmas Day. But, it is looking more and more likely that he will join his teammate, quarterback JT Daniels, and sign with rival USC.
That decision notwithstanding, Notre Dame has already inked three wide receivers this cycle, in one of the best receiver classes during the Kelly era. Time will tell if the production matches the potential, but for now, there is plenty to be excited about.
All three players released their senior season highlight videos, and all three improved greatly from their junior to senior seasons. We’ll be doing a breakdown of all three over the next few days – starting with Kevin Austin
Austin always possessed ideal size for the receiver position. At 6-3, 200 pounds, he’s tall but also lean, and can carry a lot of muscle in the upper body while maintaining an explosiveness with the ball in his hands. This allowed him to develop his acceleration and top end speed from his junior to senior season. You’ll see him explode away from defenders both in the run after catch and at the top of deep routes, which makes him truly elite as a player. Defending bigger guys is a challenge, bigger guys who can out run you is darn near impossible.
His high school team used him in a variety of ways: out wide, as the quarterback in the wild cat, and as a punt returner. Again, not something you often see from a bigger receiver. Austin excelled in these situations and showed a knack for maneuvering in space. I like players who were asked to be the main engine on their team; there is a certain amount of confidence and accountability that goes along with that. It’s something Notre Dame has been lacking at the receiver position since Golden Tate, in my opinion. It’s never bad when you accumulate players who are comfortable being the man. And Austin isn’t the only player like this in the receiver class.
Just watching the film, it doesn’t seem like Austin played the best competition. Those guys had no chance to keep up with a player of his caliber. Austin is an elite athlete, so he’s likely to present mismatches against a lot of people. But, can he be as physical and dominant against better players? For the record, he acquitted himself quite well during the summer camp series, against elite players from all over the country. But, it’d help to see it in games with pads on.
Also, as is the case with a lot of high school receivers, especially those with such a physical advantage, his route running isn’t as good as it could be. He tends to round off at times, which will kill him if he keeps it up in college. This isn’t a huge concern though, he’ll have plenty of time to work on it once on campus.