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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 0 Braden Lenzy, fifth-year receiver, one of few healthy WRs

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Measurements listed: 5 ft 11 ⅜, 182 lbs.
2022-23 Eligibility: Lenzi, a year five veteran, has two seasons of eligibility left. In other words, he could very well return to Notre Dame in the 2023 season, as unlikely as that may seem.
Depth Chart: As for the number of criticisms that can be leveled at Lenzi – more on those below – he has managed to stay available more often throughout his career and that is vital for the Irishman now. Lenzi starts in Ohio State in 29 days. In past years, he was best suited as a wide receiver, but with sophomore Lorenzo Styles also in the mix, Lenzi can move around the formation.
Recruiting: Lenzi’s recruitment remains a lesson to fans that No do. A consensus four-star prospect, Lenzi opted out of Notre Dame to head to his home state of Oregon instead, with the understanding that he could also be in the historic Ducks program. Irish fans weren’t fans of this choice and some reported it to Lenzi via social media.

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When the head coach of Oregon Willie Taggart left to take a job in Florida, Lenzi returned to Notre Dame. Ducks fans didn’t like this choice, and some made it clear to Lenzi online.

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His commitment was complemented by a letter to these fans, to all those who criticized his choices when he planned his life, and, if anything, it was not harsh enough for these screamers.

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As accessible as Lenzi was, he also missed several games due to concussions, nagging hamstring problems, and then pandemic protocols. Missing nine games in his first two active seasons wasn’t a good sign, but judging by Notre Dame’s current concerns, that’s near full health.

When he did play, Lenzi shone in 2019 with a total of 24 touchdowns for 454 yards and four touchdowns. Hamstring issues have kept him from building that momentum in 2020, but he’s been mostly stable in 2021. Lenzi has caught at least one pass in every game except against the Navy and has at least 21 receiving yards in nine games.

In the Fiesta Bowl, Lenzi was one of four receivers the Irish could use as a quarterback. Jack Coan fell back to pass 70 times. Lenzi openly admitted that he was gassed in the fourth quarter of that attempt when he caught seven passes for 60 yards.

2019: 9 games, 2 starts; 11 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns with 13 rushes for 200 yards and two more scores.
2020: 7 games, 1 start; 7 traps for 63 yards and one touchdown with 3 rushes for 8 yards.
2021: 13 games, 11 starts; 32 catches for 350 yards and three touchdowns with 5 rushes for 69 yards.

Lenzi and sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Stiles recently signed a NIL deal with Under Armor and Dick’s Sporting Goods to promote the cozy sportswear line.

Lenzi’s health was mixed. He never had a season-threatening injury like a fifth-year wide receiver. Joe Wilkins (Lisfranc) freaking out right now or what sixth year cost Avery Davis (ACL) last month of 2021. But Lenzi has never been the most durable either. Lenzi couldn’t do anything to avoid those concussions early in his career other than not playing football at all, but hamstring problems can be vaguely resolved in the off-season, as can an overall weak physique.

Lenzi has gained muscle mass even though his current reported weight is only one pound more than a year ago.

Some of that improved strength was visible on Lenzi’s favorite route, a pole turn he could use more often in 2021. The route requires a momentum reduction of about 135 degrees.

“It’s definitely tough,” Lenzi told Jack Collinsworth on North Dakota on the NBC Podcast in September. “For a long time I could not do this, and if I did, it was inconsistent. It has become one of my best routes.

“I actually got one in a game in Wisconsin. Avery also caught one. I just think it’s so much fun. … For me, this is probably my highest performing catch with the highest completion percentage.”

“Sounds simplistic but true: Lenzi’s success comes down to health. He has shown that he can excel at the university level. There aren’t enough quality full-backs on Notre Dame’s schedule to really hinder him this season. Only his hamstrings can do that.

“The Irish don’t need Lenzi to be a receiver for 50 or even 40 receptions. His performance in 2019 could have harassed the opposing defense at every snap.

“If Lenzi ends 2021 with literally two catches in every game, but one of them is always at least 20 yards away, it would mean that the Notre Dame offense has found what it has been missing for several years. It may seem skimpy, but it will be 25 catches for at least 300 yards and most likely closer to 450.

“Throw in a few long touchdowns and Lenzi’s influence becomes even more prominent.

“Measuring expectations from Lenzi may seem unnecessary given his proven talent, but it can also measure his workload, which should lead to more efficient use. Lenzi’s snaps and targets should not be about quantity, but about quality. …

“From here, Lenzi could come back in 2022 and add some more muscle to his body to become a more stable intake option. He will never become a classic ball receiver, but that is no longer his skill set, nor is it a regular NFL player.

“If Lenzi can stay healthy for a long time, then the NFL is willing to take the risk. Two years with over 60 catches and 1,200 yards will get NFL attention.”

If last summer’s prediction was accurate and Lenzi would make 60 catches and 1,200 yards in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, then this year he should be 28 catches and 850 yards. An average of 30.4 yards per catch would be otherworldly, but 850 receiving yards is also noteworthy. In the past five seasons, only three Irish receivers have surpassed that mark: Miles Boykin (872 in 2018), Chase Claypool (1037 in 2019) and Kevin Austin (888 in 2021).

Lenzi reaching that many yards would be even more shocking considering he would be no higher than Notre Dame’s second pick this season, thanks to a preseason All-American and a fairly certain tight end in the first round draft. Michael Mayer.

However, 28 catches may further underestimate Lenzi’s potential this year.

Lenzi has snapped 1,011 snaps in his career, and in 71 of them the ball was in his hands. The math here is pretty simple: about 7 percent of the time Lenzi gets the ball.

The Irish have something similar No receiver depth. Although this may result in the offensive coordinator Tommy Rhys slow down the game – Lenzi could run 70 routes in the bowl game after a month-long break; he couldn’t do it weekly – Notre Dame shouldn’t be too far behind last year’s 903 attacks. Lenzi should play three-quarters of them as one of the two stalwarts of the receiving corps along with Styles.

According to these estimates, Lenzi will see about 600 performances. 7 percent of 600 is 42.

If Lenzi finishes 2022 with 42 touches, he could surpass 600 yards from scrimmage. If it includes multiple touchdowns, it will be a solid investment.

And none of this reinforces Lenzi’s tendencies toward supposedly newfound strength or just maturity. Throw them in and Lenzi can get close to 1,000 yards from scrimmage. The Irish would love this.

RELATED READING: WR Braden Lenzy’s latest evolution isn’t too late for Notre Dame

Lenzi’s speed could make him a mid-round draft pick. He was recruited a long time ago, but anyone who could run for Oregon has a speed that encourages some NFL front offices to make rash decisions.

If he goes through the 2022 season without missing a game, his concerns about longevity will be far enough from the rearview mirror to not cause these franchises to falter.

The NFL is on the brink of running out of young wide receivers that are available in their services, while the top 10 wide receivers in the league aren’t earning too far off what quarterbacks typically pay. This will further improve Lenzi’s chances of being drafted.

With 2022 health, don’t expect Lenzi back in 2023.

From Blake Group to…


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