Chase Claypool Quietly Having A Dominant Season
Notre Dame has produced some big-time wide receivers over the last 15 years, and Irish senior Chase Claypool has quietly put together a season that puts him on pace with those former standouts from an impact standpoint.
In a year that is loaded with talented and productive pass catchers, Claypool has flown under the radar from a national standpoint. Anyone that watches Notre Dame on a consistent basis, however, has to be impressed by the playmaking skills and ability to dominate one-on-one matchups that Claypool has put on display on a week-by-week basis.
Claypool got off to a hot start, catching nine passes for 190 yards in the first two games. Inconsistency at the quarterback position stalled his production over the next five games, but following the loss to Michigan it seemed the Notre Dame coaches - and quarterback Ian Book - made a concerted effort to build the ensuing game plans around Claypool.
The senior hauled in 30 catches for 455 yards and eight touchdowns in the month of November. Project those numbers out for an entire regular season and it would be 72 catches for 1,092 yards and 19 touchdowns. That projection shows just how dominant Claypool was down the stretch.
In many ways, Claypool's production stacks up against many of the nation's top wideouts.
His targets and volume don't stack up against the top few receivers on this list, but dive deeper into the numbers and you'll see a strong season from Claypool.
His 15.1 yards per catch is better than more than half the players on the list of top players, which includes the finalists for the Biletnikoff Award (nation's top receiver) and others listed as the top draft prospects in the class.
Of his 59 catches, 78.0-percent have gone for first downs, which is better than all but two players on the above list. Claypool caught 13 passes at least 20 yards or further down the field, which is the second best mark on that list.
Assuming he plays in Notre Dame's bowl game and has a game on par with his season average, Claypool will have a season that stacks up against other top Irish pass catchers.
Claypool's production has already surpassed what we saw from Miles Boykin last season. Claypool has already matched Boykin's catch numbers (59), and he's already surpassed Boykin's yards production (891 to 872), touchdown production (12 to 8) and has a higher yards per catch average (15.1 to 14.8).
According to Pro Football Focus, Claypool has racked up 306 yards after the catch, which is 100 yards better than what Boykin produced last season. Claypool's 78.0-percent first-down rate is also better than Boykin's 74.6-percent rate.
In fact, Claypool's first-down success rate this season was better than Boykin, Equanimeous St. Brown in 2016 (62.1%) and Will Fuller V in 2015 (64.5%).
Claypool's 13 grabs of throws that traveled at least 20 yards was better than Boykin (11) and St. Brown (8), and surprisingly was also better than Fuller's 11 in 2014. Fuller had 17 such grabs in 13 games in 2015.
Claypool's 12 touchdown receptions this season ties Michael Floyd (2010) and Jeff Samardzija (2006) for the sixth-best single season mark in Notre Dame history. His 18 career touchdown receptions is tied with Maurice Stovall (2002-05) for ninth all time at Notre Dame.
Claypool currently has 143 career receptions, which ranks eighth all-time in Irish history. If he catches two passes in the bowl game he'll pass Fuller for seventh all time.
And Claypool isn't just a standout wide receiver. His fumble recovery on a muffed punt against Georgia set up the team's first touchdown. He has been a standout on the Irish special teams throughout his career, and that continued in 2019 when he emerged as the team's top pass catcher.