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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 4 Lorenzo Styles, sophomore receiver poised for a breakout

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma State v Notre Dame

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 01: Lorenzo Styles #21 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish makes a catch for a touchdown past Tanner McCalister #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first quarter during the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ⅛, 195 pounds.2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Styles has three seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Styles may be more assured of a starting spot than any other Notre Dame receiver.Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect and the No. 6 receiver in the country, per, Styles opted for the Irish instead of his homestate Ohio State, where his brother, a freshman safety, ended up.

Styles played in every game as a freshman, but it was only at the end of the season that he erupted. In the first 11 games, he caught 13 passes for 181 yards, highlighted by a 40-yard catch against North Carolina with 74 yards total that day.

Then in the regular-season finale, Styles caught four passes for 27 yards at Stanford, a season-high in receptions, and in the Fiesta Bowl, he led the way with eight catches for 136 yards and his first career touchdown.

2021: 13 games; 24 catches for 344 yards and a touchdown; one rush for 37 yards.

Styles and fifth-year receiver Braden Lenzy recently signed a NIL deal with Under Armour and Dick’s Sporting Goods to push a line of athletic apparel that does look rather comfortable.

While Notre Dame has Lenzy and junior tight end Michael Mayer, not to mention junior running back Chris Tyree, as proven offensive playmakers, getting the ball into Styles’ hands will be a priority this fall.

“If he can get his hands on the ball, he can do a lot of great, great things,” Irish receivers coach Chansi Stuckey said in April. “He reminds me of when I first switched to receiver — super athlete, but I didn’t understand the details of it.

“With him, I see a younger version of myself. I’m trying to bring him along the way I was brought along, just working on the details and finding a way to get better every day. Before long, we’ll hopefully have a pretty polished and finished product.

“Getting him the ball in space is the biggest thing.”

For context, Stuckey went to Clemson in 2003 as a quarterback, moving to receiver as a sa sophomore. He had 25 catches for 280 yards in his first season at the new position before catching 64 passes for 770 yards and four touchdowns as a junior.

“Preseason practices will shed more light on Styles’ hopes of cracking the receiver rotation. Of him, (Avery) Davis and (Lawrence) Keys, the Irish are likely to incorporate only two at slot. The transfers of sophomores Jordan Johnson (to Central Florida) and Jay Brunelle (to Yale), though, leave a lack of depth on the outside. Moving Keys there would be a surprise, but Davis or Styles could contribute behind Lenzy.

“If Notre Dame makes sure to get practice reps for one of them on the outside, either one, that will serve as an indication of early faith in Styles and an expectation for him to chip in. Irish head coach Brian Kelly is oft-criticized for not utilizing freshman receivers, but that is not entirely accurate. TJ Jones, Chris Brown, Will Fuller, Corey Robinson, Kevin Stepherson and Kevin Austin all played in at least 11 games, to name the highlights.

“Jones cracked 300 yards with three touchdowns, and Stepherson outdid that with 462 and five scores, while Fuller averaged 26.7 yards on six catches. Brown’s greatest contribution remains well-remembered (50-yard gain at Oklahoma), Robinson’s towering frame provided red-zone worries for every opposing defense to fret over and Austin worked through age-old traits issues to make his only collegiate impressions to date.

“Kelly uses freshmen when they can genuinely help. For further evidence, note tight end Michael Mayer and running back Chris Tyree in 2020.

“Of those receivers, Styles may arrive the most complete package, perhaps aside from Stepherson, myriad off-field issues aside.

“That depth alone may be needed for Notre Dame’s offense to find its footing in 2021. Austin has not played a season’s worth of snaps since his final year in high school in 2017; Lenzy’s hamstrings remain a tricky issue; Keys’ bumps and bruises have kept him off the field a few times throughout his career. Any one of those troubles returning could push Styles into a primary role.

“And if not, then Irish special teams coordinator Brian Polian may have a use for Styles as a punt returner. Polian indicated in the spring that he had made sure to get Styles work at the position, and Notre Dame does not have an established piece there, walk-on Matt Salerno notwithstanding.”

Expect more. Notre Dame not only needs more out of Styles as a sophomore, but simple logic also makes it clear more is coming.

Styles took 249 snaps last season, though the Irish offense ran 903 plays. With Kyren Williams and Kevin Austin the most notable names now gone, Notre Dame has few options to step in for them. Styles tops that list.

He likely will push 600 snaps this year. At a minimum, he should take 500.

For prediction’s sake, let’s suggest Styles catches 45 passes for 700 yards and five touchdowns, leading the Irish receivers in all three categories. Those numbers would be higher if not for Mayer, who will get the bulk of first looks from sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner.

On a less serious note, for prediction’s sake, let’s acknowledge the ABC broadcast in 31 days will spend plenty of time on the Styles family, even if Sonny might not start for the Buckeyes. Longtime Irish fans with devoted memories may get flashbacks to a certain Notre Dame quarterback and an Ohio State linebacker circa 2006.

Styles will lead Notre Dame in all receiving categories — and this time including tight ends — in 2023, and if those numbers are dramatic enough, that might push him toward the NFL after only his junior season.

The confidence in those statements comes partly from the dire straits of the Irish receivers room. When Davis and Lenzy depart after this season, Styles and his classmates Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas will be the most proven commodities left. Taking off a third of the offensive snaps will not be an option any longer; Styles might play 800 snaps in 2023.

If he produces in those moments to such an extent he needs to consider the NFL, that will be a welcome worry for Notre Dame.

From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury
No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end
No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury
No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow
No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter
No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety
No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury
No. 21 Jaden Mickey, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback
No. 18 Chance Tucker, sophomore cornerback
No. 18 Steve Angeli, freshman QB, Blue-Gold Game star
No. 17 Jaylen Sneed, early-enrolled linebacker, Rover of the future
No. 16 Brandon Joseph, Northwestern transfer, preseason All-American, starting safety
No. 16 Deion Colzie, sophomore receiver
No. 15 Tobias Merriweather, freshman receiver, forever a memorable recruitment
No. 15 Ryan Barnes, sophomore cornerback
No. 14 Bryce McFerson, freshman punter facing a Harvard challenge
No. 13 Gi’Bran Payne, freshman running back, late recruit
No. 12 Tyler Buchner, sophomore starting QB
No. 12 Jordan Botelho, a defensive end-turned-linebacker
No. 11 Ron Powlus III, sophomore QB providing steadiness to a chaotic room
No. 11 Ramon Henderson, junior cornerback-turned-safety
No. 10 Drew Pyne, junior quarterback
No. 10 Prince Kollie, sophomore linebacker, high school Butkus Award winner
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL
No. 9 Justin Ademilola, fifth-year defensive end, a backup in name only
No. 8 Marist Liufau, senior linebacker returning from a dislocated ankle
No. 7 Audric Estime, sophomore running back, No. 2 on the shortened depth chart
No. 7 Isaiah Foskey, defensive end on a record chase
No. 6 Clarence Lewis, three-year starting cornerback
No. 5 Joe Wilkins, receiver with a September-costing foot injury
No. 5 Cam Hart, senior cornerback, second-year starter
No. 4 Xavier Watts, junior receiver-turned-safety

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