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Receivers Boykin and Claypool set high expectations for Irish offense

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Coming out of the Citrus Bowl victory on New Year’s Day, the big question surrounding Notre Dame football was who would start at quarterback in 2018.

Through the spring, summer, and now the first stretch of fall camp, head coach Brian Kelly has made it clear Brandon Wimbush is maintaining his spot at QB1.

But what about the guys he’ll be throwing to?

“Our number one job is to make them look like the best quarterbacks in the country,” said receiver Miles Boykin, whose highlight catch captured that bowl win over LSU. “Every day we step out on the field, that’s our goal and that’s what we try to do.”

The wide receiver position is one of intrigue during camp, and after a down day on the field, the group held a post-practice meeting amongst themselves.

“We just had a talk after practice,” said junior receiver Chase Claypool. “We didn’t have the best practice, but we expect the most out of ourselves because we want to play for a national championship. We have to keep holding ourselves to that standard.”

That standard – and expectation – comes with the talent of those two wide-outs.

While both are relatively inexperienced, Boykin and Claypool provide an exciting possibility on either side of Wimbush by combining their respective size, strength, and speed.

“I think we complement each other extremely well,” said Boykin, now a senior. “I think we both have two unique skillsets that are equally as potent. He’s big, strong and can go up and get the ball. I’m big, strong and can go up and get the ball. At the same time, we’re different receivers in the things we can do or the routes we can run. I love seeing Chase on the other side of the field.”

“Us big receivers can do it all,” Claypool added. “We’re not limited to just a couple things on the field. I want to show that [this year]. It’s really nice to see someone who can do all the same things and is big and physical and be scary for DBs. I think it’s going to be a problem for defenses.”

And even outside the lines, Boykin’s leadership continues to make a difference despite his quieter demeanor. Though he won’t be the most animated, Boykin believes he needs to be a leader for the group.

“I just think it’s about the preparation from day to day,” he said. “The things I do and the way I do lead, even off the field. I know how to take care of myself and make the right decisions. I haven’t had a slip-up here in my four years and I think that goes a long way.”

For Claypool, the case has always been preparation and focus. The Irish coaching staff has seen an increasing desire from him to improve, but are hoping this season is when the junior puts it all together.

“When I was younger, I was just running the routes,” he said. “Now I know the coverages before the snap, so I know what’s going to happen and can anticipate more. That allows me to play freer and to think about what I’m going to do to execute the play better.”

And if that continues, adding the likes of veteran Chris Finke and other assorted talent in the receiver room should propel the Irish to a more explosive passing game in 2018.

“I think we can be the best,” said Boykin. “That’s what we work towards every day.”

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