The more things change among Notre Dame’s receivers, the more they stay the same. A year after the Irish returned a total of 45 receptions among their receivers from the previous season, they have now turned over so much of the position group that only 44 receptions return from 2020.

Of course, that worked out alright for Notre Dame in 2020, averaging 37.7 points per game in the regular season.

The back-to-back years of turnover among Irish receivers arises due to differing circumstances. A year ago, Notre Dame needed to replace talented stalwart Chase Claypool and reliable slotman Chris Finke. The 2019 passing game had not needed to rely on much else, particularly not when including tight end Cole Kmet. Add in Kevin Austin’s unspoken suspension and hamstring issues for Braden Lenzy, and the returning Irish receivers had neither needed to carry the offense nor had continued opportunity to.

Yet, those names were not the ones that pushed Notre Dame in 2020.

Instead, Javon McKinley caught 31 more passes than he had in 2019 (42 catches for 717 yards and three touchdowns), and Northwestern graduate transfer Ben Skowronek added 29 receptions for five scores. The pair of broad targets provided Ian Book the hands necessary to reach 10-0 in the regular season.