Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool won’t be doing much for the Fighting Irish this spring as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.
After losing Equanimeous St. Brown to the NFL and dismissing Kevin Stepherson in January, Claypool is the most experienced returning wide receiver on the roster and he’ll be an important part of Notre Dame’s offensive success in 2018. However, with depth such a serious question for the Irish his injury might actually be a blessing in disguise.
Of course, Notre Dame would love to keep its roster as healthy as possible at all times. But Claypool’s absence frees up a lot of repetitions for younger players trying to prove themselves and the ideal result in the fall will be a wide receivers room significantly more comfortable within the offense that has several options they’re comfortable with instead of just one.
And with every wide receiver on the roster moving up on the depth chart by a peg, everybody can gain something of value while Claypool recovers.
Miles Boykin already took advantage of an opportunity while Claypool was out in the Citrus Bowl, catching 3 passes for 102 yards in the win over LSU. Boykin’s game-winning, 55-yard circus catch for a touchdown late in the game gave plenty of Notre Dame fans hope that he has genuine star potential.
However, he’s still only got 18 career receptions, so Claypool’s continued absence will give him an extended opportunity to work as the No. 1 wide receiver which should prove beneficial. Chris Finke is the only other returning wide receiver with any experience to speak of (16 career receptions) and he should benefit accordingly slotting in as the No. 2 option this spring.
Then there is rising junior Javon McKinley, rising sophomore Michael Young and true freshman Micah Jones, who enrolled early and is already eligible to participate this spring.
Nobody in that trio has live game experience yet, but they all figure to see a large number of reps with the first-team offense that they must capitalize on with 4-star receiver Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy and Lawrence Keys arriving in the summer.
There’s already some buzz surrounding Young’s play-making ability this spring while Jones and McKinley have game-ready bodies at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and 6-foot-2, 215 pounds respectively. So all three could find their way into the regular rotation at wide receiver thanks to the additional reps created by Claypool’s injury.
After 29 catches for 402 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2017, Notre Dame needs Claypool to be productive again (and to an even larger extent) in 2018. And that will require him to be as healthy as humanly possible, so the rest he’s getting now will certainly do him good.
However, the fact that the five other scholarship wide receivers on the roster at the moment are faced with additional responsibilities while he recovers could be as important. So, while you would never hope for a valuable member of your roster has to fight through injury, if there was ever such a thing as good timing it’s now.
The post Chase Claypool injury could be blessing for Notre Dame offense appeared first on Diehards.
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