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Notre Dame

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Position outlook
Receivers
Notre Dame is operating during spring practice as if it will not have one of its top offensive weapons this season.
Michael Floyd’s arrest for drunken driving, his third alcohol-related brush with the law since 2009, has put last season’s top receiver’s future with the program in doubt. Floyd had 79 receptions for 1,025 yards with 12 touchdowns and was named the Sun Bowl and team MVP last year.
Theo Riddick, who moved from running back to slot receiver last season, is the top-producing pass catcher in spring camp. The junior-to-be had 40 catches for 414 yards and three touchdowns in nine games last year.
To replace Floyd, the Irish will turn to former Bishop Dwenger star John Goodman, converted quarterback Luke Massa and sophomore-to-be Daniel Smith. Only Goodman played last season, catching 15 passes for 146 yards.
Notre Dame will also need more out of sophomore-to-be TJ Jones, who made seven starts as a freshman and finished with 26 receptions for 306 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior-to-be Robby Toma, who had 14 catches for 187 yards last season, and senior-to-be Deion Walker add depth in the spring.
Blue-Gold game
When: 2 p.m. April 16
TV: Versus
On the Web: For more coverage of Notre Dame’s spring practice, including observations from Saturday’s open practice, visit the blog “Irish Insights” at www.journalgazette.net and follow Irish Insights on Twitter at @JGIrishInsights
Notre Dame photo
Notre Dame receiver John Goodman has 21 career receptions for 250 yards with one touchdown in 21 games. He’s being counted to be a leader.
Notre Dame spring practice

Receiver ready to lead

Goodman looks to contribute more for Irish

– Notre Dame receiver John Goodman, who will be a senior this season, can sense that time is running out.

Even though the former Bishop Dwenger standout is guaranteed this season and can apply for a fifth year to play next year, the senior-to-be senses he has to make a statement.

“There is definitely a sense of urgency,” Goodman said after Notre Dame’s second spring practice Friday. “It’s weird, we all think about we have been through three years already. This is some guys’ last spring ball. A lot of my good friends’ last spring ball.

“A lot of us are lucky enough to apply for a fifth year. There is definitely a sense of urgency, and definitely, leadership has stepped up with all of us.”

Goodman’s ability to be more of a leader became more critical when leading receiver Michael Floyd was indefinitely suspended from the team Monday after he was charged with driving while intoxicated last Sunday.

“Since he’s gone, you just got to play like he’s gone,” Goodman said. “You can’t say, ‘OK, he’s going to be back tomorrow. It’ll be fine. I can take off this play.’ You got to go out there and realize that if he’s gone, you got to play every play as hard as you can. You can’t just slack off because you think he’s going to come back.

“Now that he’s gone, I got to step up and be the leader and step up and take that position. And work my hardest to keep that position.”

Floyd had a team-high 79 receptions for 1,025 yards with 12 touchdowns last year. Notre Dame’s next-leading receiver is Theo Riddick, who had 40 catches for 414 yards and three touchdowns in nine games.

Coach Brian Kelly said Goodman, who has 21 career receptions for 250 yards with one touchdown in 21 games, converted quarterback Luke Massa and sophomore-to-be Daniel Smith will be counted on to fill the void left by Floyd at one of the outside receiver spots.

“Obviously from (Goodman’s) standpoint, a guy that’s got a lot of football in him, can make plays, and we know what he can do,” Kelly said. “Danny is kind of that unknown, big, physical, strong kid, and he needs a lot of work this spring, and Luke we are breaking in.”

Goodman is being counted on to help break in the new receivers as he enters his second year in Kelly’s spread offense. It is a role he has embraced.

“He was a high school quarterback, so he kind of has that quarterback mentality out there with the receivers,” quarterback Tommy Rees said of Goodman, who was Dwenger’s quarterback his senior season. “He’s vocal, and he leads them. He does a great job of leading by example. He finishes off his routes. He will make that extra block down field. He’s been doing really well.”

Notre Dame receivers coach Tony Alford said Goodman has improved in an area that was holding him back last year – keeping his eye on the ball.

The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Fort Wayne native had only 15 receptions for 146 yards last season, and Goodman said he dedicated the offseason, summer and this spring to not pulling his head away before he secures the ball.

“He’s progressed quite a bit,” Alford said. “He’s older, he’s more mature. There should be some incremental improvements with him, and there have been. He understands it more.

“Everyone’s got an opportunity. He’s done a nice job of preparing himself to play.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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