Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 25 Braden Lenzy, consensus four-star receiver, incoming freshman
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-0, 170 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Incoming freshman with four years of eligibility remaining, including the 2018 season.
Depth chart: Without ever seeing him take a practice snap, Lenzy projects as a boundary receiver, getting one-on-one coverage and forcing a safety to help over the top. Currently, sophomore Michael Young holds that starting role. Perhaps more pertinent in an immediate sense, Lenzy could end up Notre Dame’s primary kick returner this season with no one established in that spot.
Recruiting: The consensus four-star prospect could have gone nearly anywhere in the Pac-12, including USC, Stanford or Washington State. Instead his recruitment always centered on Notre Dame and Oregon — beginning with a commitment to the former before flipping to the latter and then returning to the Irish fold when Ducks coach Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State. UCLA joined the race late when Chip Kelly was hired as head coach.
Lenzy technically signed with Notre Dame during December’s early signing period, but he did so late Friday afternoon, long after Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s Wednesday media conference. Thus, it was not until the traditional National Signing Day that any Notre Dame coaches offered public comments on the speedy track star.
“Just a spark plug,” Irish receivers coach Del Alexander said. “A kid that has a wealth of knowledge of everything sports, is really intelligent outside of sports. It was just great listening to him and his dad argue back-and-forth about current and past players of their favorite teams and watch that father-son bond and also appreciate where he is mentally.
“[Lenzy] is a gym rat, a junkie, and he wants to be really good as a football player, but he also wants everything that Notre Dame has to offer off the field.”
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN LENZY’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
“You can’t teach speed, and Lenzy has it. That alone will get him on the field early. Irish head coach Brian Kelly has always preferred to have at least one speedster on the field to take the top off the defense. (See: Chris Brown, Will Fuller, Kevin Stepherson.) With hands providing legitimacy to that deep threat, Lenzy offers a dynamic option.”
Consider Lenzy one of the few freshmen already assured of appearing in more than four games, despite the NCAA’s adjustment to eligibility policies. Even with a deep receiver grouping, Notre Dame lacks many true speed options, and the ones on the roster all include a disclaimer of some sort. Senior Miles Boykin has underrated speed, but his acceleration was a spring-time development, yet to be seen in genuine competition; Junior Chase Claypool has breakaway speed, but his mental focus is defined by its inconsistency; Young has real speed, yet that was not enough to get him routine playing time as a freshman.
Lenzy’s speed is of the Fuller or Brown variety. It is difficult to overstate it. That alone should lead to a handful of deep shots this season, especially since senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush has the arm strength to keep up with Lenzy’s legs.
That is not to even mention kick returner duties. With C.J. Sanders headed to Southern Methodist University, the Irish have no one set at the position. (Junior running back Tony Jones was always a failsafe when he lined up alongside Sanders, and as the starting running back now, he will almost certainly relinquish that duty.) Lenzy’s speed makes him an obvious successor to Sanders, providing him an immediate chance to impact the season.
Projecting a touchdown at either receiver or kick returner is to project a big play. By their very nature, big plays should not be expected, but consider this an acknowledgement of that very real possibility.
DOWN THE ROAD
As a part of an excellent quartet of receivers in the class of 2018, Lenzy will need to be productive and consistent to stay ahead of the pack. It may not be until his junior season that he cracks the starting rotation, with both Boykin and Claypool then out of eligibility, but there would be a bounty of opportunities for a speed threat with reliable hands as the fourth receiver.
A delay in finding a main role should not perturb Lenzy, who showed excellent maturity during a recruiting process in which fans showed the irrationality and idiocy of many of those who too closely follow the decisions of high schoolers.
“Not long after I announced [a de-commitment from Notre Dame to pledge to Oregon], a notification popped up on my phone for a DM from Twitter,” Lenzy wrote in an essay announcing his commitment on The Players’ Tribune. “It was from somebody saying they hoped I tore my ACL.
“I got another one saying negative things about my family and how I was raised.
“And then, I started getting some death threats.”
Lenzy continued to explain why he had decided on the Irish in the end, before adding, “I want to make clear not only to those people who sent me those messages directly, but also to every other high schooler who has experienced the same thing: Negative people exist everywhere, but you can’t let them dictate how you live your life.”
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 98 Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 68 Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 60 Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically) Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 56 John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 47 Kofi Wardlow, defensive end, sophomore
No. 45 Jonathan Jones, linebacker, junior
No. 44 Jamir Jones, defensive end, junior
No. 42 Julian Okwara, defensive end, junior
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 40 Drew White, linebacker, sophomore
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, kickoff specialist, sophomore
No. 34 Jahmir Smith, running back, early-enrolled freshman
No. 33 Shayne Simon, linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 31 Jack Lamb, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 30 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, sophomore
No. 29 Ovie Oghoufo, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 28 Nicco Fertitta, safety, senior
No. 27 Julian Love, cornerback, junior, second-team All-American
No. 24 Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 35 David Adams, linebacker, sophomore
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer
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