It's been a newsworthy week for the Notre Dame wide receiver depth chart, who has lost a player and added two players to the depth chart this week. There were plenty of questions for wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey this week, and he had plenty of answers.
On Jayden Thomas And Speed
What’s most readily apparent about sophomore Jayden Thomas is his size. The 6-1, 215-pound sophomore is one of the most physically imposing of the Irish receivers. Stuckey has also been impressed with Thomas’s speed this fall after a summer of work.
“That has been the biggest grace and happiness that I’ve had,” Stuckey said of the Atlanta native's speed. “(From) where we were in the spring, just to see where we are now. That guy’s bought in over the summer, because it takes commitment. We’re not with them during the summer. They have to take ownership of what we did in the spring, the drills that we give them and do it on their own, so that when we come to camp they can be better. He’s shooting his shot right now and he’s doing a really, really good job.”
On Jayden Thomas In The Red Zone
Thomas made a handful of red zone catches on the first day of practice this fall. That was the only full practice and the only live action the media has seen so far. Stuckey believes Thomas can be a red zone weapon for the offense this season.
“What makes him unique is he’s so big, but he has such good short area quickness,” Stuckey said. “He’s thick, but he has really quick feet and a lot of suddenness and understands how to move and contort his body, so that’s one of the main things we look at.
“What I look at in recruiting is mid-flight body control,” Stuckey continued. “How can I reach back, jump, contort my body, catch the ball, (and) land in the end zone with one foot. He does a really, really good job of that. The more we do it, the better they’ll be. We don’t want to be a finished product on September 3rd.”
On Braden Lenzy
Veteran Braden Lenzy has had a consistent fall camp, based on what the media has been able to see through the first two weeks of camp. Stuckey likes what he has seen from the most experienced member of the group.
“I think the biggest thing for him is confidence,” said Stuckey. “He called me after (former Baylor receiver) Tyquan Thornton got drafted. He said ‘Coach, can that be me’? I said ‘If you buy in’. I think from that moment on, he began to believe .... I’m gonna shoot my shot. I’m going to see where this goes.
“I told him today I was super proud of him, just from the way he’s committed to the program, how he’s matured throughout the years before I got here, from what I hear, (and) how hard he works,” Stuckey continued. “He is at least (one of the) top three hardest workers on our team. I think he wants to be great. You want guys like that, that want to raise the standard of the room.”
On Matt Salerno
Veteran Matt Salerno is another grad student in the receivers room. He began his career as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship in the offseason. He will now potentially be counted on for a bigger role when Notre Dame takes the field Sept. 3.
“Playing within himself,” Stuckey said of his expectations for Salerno. “Everyone on our offense with have a role and if everyone is the best version of themselves, we’ll be exactly where we need to be. I don’t need him trying to be Mike, I don’t need him trying to be (Tyler) Buchner, not JT (Jayden Thomas).
“This is your role, this is what you do well and it’s our job as coaches to put him in a position to do what he does well, not ask him to do something he probably shouldn’t be doing,” Stuckey continued. “Just having his role, knowing what he should be doing. He’s gonna give his all in everything he does and you’re gonna look up and he’s gonna make some plays.”
On Notre Dame’s tight ends
Stuckey was asked if there is anything he can do to help Notre Dame’s tight ends group as receivers. Stuckey was quick to recall that position coach Gerad Parker had spent most the previous seven seasons at Purdue, Duke, Penn State and West Virginia as a receivers coach himself.
“Gerad Parker has the best job in the world,” Stuckey said. “Write that down, Gerad Parker has the best job in the world. He comes in, these beautiful, rock cut out Greek gods just walk in the room.
“You watch those guys and you see Eli (Raridon) come in and make plays, you see Holden (Staes) come in and make plays,” Stuckey continued. “But it makes for competitiveness. You’re only going to get better if it’s competitive.”
On Derrick Mayes Visiting The Receivers
“(It allows) those guys to understand, you’re not just playing receiver in 2022,” said Stuckey. “You’re representing a whole conglomerate of Notre Dame wide receivers who were here before you. These guys know your name and they’re expecting you to uphold the standard that they’ve started.”
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