Onward to 2013: Wide Receivers

T.J. Jones enjoyed his finest season in 2012

Twelve up, twelve down. So what's next? Naturally the first of eight looks at the future, position-by-position, for the 2013 Irish. Ample speculation included, of course...

2013 Sneak Peak: Wide Receivers

The unit loses a total of seven starts, four touchdowns, and 31 receptions (47 pass targets) from 2012. Seven scholarship receivers return with four more verbally pledged giving the roster 11 receivers; eight of which would likely return for 2014 and 2015.

Who's Departing? 5th-year senior John Goodman (7 receptions, 6 first downs, 3 touchdowns) and senior Robby Toma (24 receptions, one rushing score).

Who's Returning? Seniors T.J. Jones (1), Daniel Smith (1), and Luke Massa (2); junior DaVaris Daniels (3), sophomores Chris Brown, Davonte' Neal, Justin Ferguson (3).

Daniels ranked third on the team in receptions (25) and fourth in pass targets (39). The redshirt-freshman suffered a broken collarbone in Game 11 at Boston College but could return for the BCS Championship game. Smith entered the season without a reception and only kick coverage playing time to his credit. He emerged to start four games and play in all 12 this fall, catching seven passes while serving a key perimeter blocking role.

Jones finished second on the squad behind tight end Tyler Eifert in receptions (43) and pass targets (74), tying Eifert for the touchdown lead (4).

The freshmen trio of Brown, Neal, and Ferguson each started 12 games on special teams, with Brown finding increased playing time from scrimmage, finishing with two catches including a game-changing 50-yard reception at Oklahoma. Neither Neal or Ferguson caught a pass since the season opener.

Massa tore his ACL in April but was able to suit up and play vs. Wake Forest in the home finale. He served as a backup holder throughout the season.

Who's Joining? 6'1" 202-pound, 4-star James Onwualu, Cretin Derham Hall HS (Saint Paul, MN); 6'4" 195-pound 4-star Corey Robinson, San Antonio Christian HS (San Antonio); 6'1" 170-pound 4-star Will Fuller, Roman Catholic HS (Philadelphia); 6'0" 160-pound 4-star Torii Hunter, Jr., Prosper HS (Prosper, TX).

(Click the links below for highlight reels and related stories for each):

James Onwualu

Corey Robinson

Will Fuller

Torii Hunter

Who Might Join? 6'3" 190-pound 4-star Laquon Treadwell, Crete-Monee HS (Crete, IL). Click here for highlights

Quote to Note: "I think it's just the maturation of a receiver, whether DaVaris (Daniels) or TJ (Jones) it happens to all of 'em.  I think he's starting to understand that if he runs his routes, we're going to find you.

"We threw just a little bit of just a little bubble into the boundary.  We have been telling him all year, Just run north and south.  He got eight, nine yards on a play that he was tackled at two if he just kind of goes out there and tries to shake.

"So he's picking up all the little things that we're asking him to pick up.  I think our quarterbacks are starting to see that, too." -- Irish head coach Brian Kelly on the development of Daniels and young receivers in general.

Pure Speculation

Treadwell would be a welcomed addition and potential difference-maker for 2014 but the guess here is the Irish will conclude their 2013 cycle with four receiver prospects, each already on board. Jones, Daniels, Neal, Brown, and Smith will make up the 5-man rotation at spring's conclusion with room for one more to prove reliable through summer conditioning and August training camp.

With Jones and Smith graduating following 2013, expect two of the incoming four receiver prospects to see starting special teams duty next fall as did their trio of predecessors (Brown, Neal, and Ferguson) this season. Two receivers should redshirt (unless they prove superior to veterans from scrimmage or otherwise) to better stagger the position's depth/eligibility following 2015 when Daniels, Brown, Neal, and Ferguson will all exit campus.

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