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CFF Targets - Notre Dame's Hidden Gem: Chase Claypool 2.0?
Another one for the Gipper...
Notre Dame means something to everybody. It has a tradition and a feeling that you can't get anywhere else.
- Joe Theismann, former NFL QB
Step foot on the hallowed grounds of the Notre Dame (ND) campus in South Bend, and you'll find yourself amidst a palpable excitement surrounding the arrival of a promising new WR talent. Today, our focus is on true freshman Jaden Greathouse, who has just set foot on the storied campus. As we delve into his potential, memories of a former Irish standout at WR, NFL'er Chase Claypool, come rushing back. While Claypool may not be the talk of the town at the moment, his senior season at ND proved he was a formidable CFF asset. In 2019, he paced the Irish with 66 catches for 1037 yards and 13 TDs across 13 games. If we convert those numbers to fantasy points in a 1-ppr format, that’s an average of 19.05 FPG.
Could the fresh-faced Greathouse produce something similar in year one? Well, there aren’t many other notable names in the WR room, so it’s possible. Notably, those numbers for Claypool occurred under a previous regime. So naturally a question would be: what’s the current staff’s track record with WR production?
Coaching & System
Current ND head coach Marcus Freeman is a young up-and-coming star in the collegiate ranks, but his background is on defence. As such, we’ll move onto the OC—Gerad Parker. GP joined the program in 2022 as the TEs coach after previously spending two seasons as OC at West Virginia (WVU). He did not have a 1000-yard receiver in either of those years, and his leading receiver in 2021 caught 63 passes for 688 yards and 5 TDs. In 2019, Parker served as the WRs coach and pass game coordinator for Penn State. The lead receiver came up just short of 1000-yards, catching 56 passes for 904 yards and 8 TDs. As the WRs coach for Duke in 2018, Parker’s lead receiver caught 75 passes for 811 yards and 8 TDs. So while GP’s offences have not been producers of 1000-yard receivers, there are still some productive players, and a few came close to breaking the mark.
The pass game coordinator—Gino Guidugli, spent the previous six seasons with Cincinnati. As with all coaches who serve in the role of ‘pass game coordinator’, it’s difficult to determine just how much influence they had on play calling. However, he was promoted to OC in 2022. Unfortunately, his time with the Bearcats saw zero 1000-yard receivers.
WRs coach Chansi Stuckey joined the program in 2022. Before that, he coached at Baylor in the same role, where his WR1 came close to 1000 yards—TyQuan Thornton, caught 62 passes for 948 yards and 10 TDs.
The last time ND had a WR break 1000 yards it was… you guessed it—Chase Claypool in 2019. Of course, that was with a different regime, but Greathouse offers a similar build, and the fact that he’s been making waves already as a true freshman is an encouraging sign.
WR Jaden Greathouse — 6’1.5, 220
JG was a four star recruit by every major recruiting service in the class of 2023. The Austin, TX native was ranked as high as 107th overall on Rivals’ rankings (17th ranked WR), yet was miraculously ranked as the 4th highest WR by ESPN despite having him just 122nd overall. That just goes to show how much variance there can be between these ranking services (that and the fact that ESPN’s rankings simply can’t be trusted).
Greathouse found himself on CFF radars this spring when he caught 11 passes for 118 yards in the spring game.
Here’s an excerpt from an ON3 report regarding the big spring performance for JG:
During Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold spring game, Greathouse ‘stuck out’ with an impressive performance, one that Freeman was even surprised and impressed by.
“Yeah, I didn’t even know that. 11 for 118 is a pretty good stat line,” said Freeman. “He stuck out, he played well; I mean, he played really well. All three of those freshmen are going to help us. And all three of those freshmen will play for us this year. I’m really confident that those three guys will help this football team. And it’s good to see Jaden step up today.
“Like I said, when the lights are on, you want to see who we’ll step up and make plays. All three of them have been really, really good additions to our program throughout the spring. That wasn’t just a one-time performance; All three of those guys have shown to be productive throughout the spring.”
With Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman essentially heading into summer as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, especially wit Tyler Buchner now at Alabama, the Fighting Irish quarterback is going to need all the weapons he can get in preparation for the 2023 season.
Here are the highlights of Greathouse’s spring performance (shoutout to DevyDeepDive):
As you can tell, Greathouse is primarily operating out of the slot in the spring game. I’ll assume that means that’s what he’ll be primarily doing in-season too. That’s good news when considering ND is replacing it’s top target—Michael Mayer, who operated out of the slot often as a TE.
Like Claypool, JG is somewhat of a jumbo-sized WR. While Claypool was bigger (6’4, 230 in college), I can’t help but wonder whether Greathouse will be able to fill a similar role. With Sam Hartman now in the fold as well, things get even more intriguing.
As with all true freshman, this is a pure projection profile.
The system in place at ND has not been conducive for elite WR production in the past.
I personally think ND will be relying on the run game a lot this season. They’ve got a good tailback in Audric Estime, and some compelling offensive lineman up front—if you’ve spent any time on Twitter you’ve probably seen the NFL draft hype train surrounding OT Joe Alt (let me use this opportunity to insert a hot take: UGA’s OT Amarius Mims will be the first lineman taken in the 2024 draft; yes, even over the guy from Penn State).
Greathouse currently sports an ADP of 184 (around the 15th round in 12-team formats). I think that’s a good range for a player like this—you’re really just taking a flyer on him to see what happens in the first few weeks. If he’s not producing, no biggie, just cut him and move on. The fact that ND doesn’t have a default target-man returning at TE leads me to believe that Greathouse could — at least in part — fulfill some of that role. And with a proven commodity at QB, I’m willing to make some allowances for a poor system on this one.
From a dynasty or Devy perspective, this is a very intriguing prospect. We’re talking about a player who was a high profile recruit out of Texas (the Longhorns wanted him badly), could likely be a producer in CFF for three seasons, and has a near unlimited potential at this point.
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