The Journal Gazette
Thursday, September 09, 2021 1:40 am

Reports: Keys to sit out season

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame wide receiver Lawrence Keys III will sit out the rest of the season, after which he will re-evaluate where he wants to finish his college football career, according to multiple reports.

Keys, a redshirt junior, will have two years of eligibility remaining at the end of the season. He was slated to be a key part of Notre Dame's passing offense this season, especially after piling up 115 receiving yards in the spring Blue-Gold Game, but he only played five snaps in the season-opener against Florida State and did not make a catch. It appears as though Keys would not have been targeted as much as Kevin Austin Jr., Avery Davis, Joe Wilkins Jr., Braden Lenzy or even tight end Michael Mayer this season. In addition, he was probably getting pushed for snaps with the second team offense by freshmen receivers Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles.

Keys entered the Irish program in 2018 and did not see the field that year, taking a redshirt. Over the last two seasons, he made 18 catches for 185 yards. He also returned kicks in 2019, totaling 194 yards on 10 returns. 

Notre Dame has seen serious attrition at wide receiver in recent months, losing Keys, Jordan Johnson, Jay Brunelle, Micah Jones and Kendall Abdur-Rahman at the position. That's all in addition to Michael Young's transfer prior to the 2020 campaign that necessitated Notre Dame going out and getting former Homestead receiver Ben Skowronek from the transfer portal (that turned out to be a good decision as Skowronek was an important part of the 2020 College Football Playoff team and then was drafted in the seventh round by the LA Rams). Notre Dame still has a lot of talent at the top at wide receiver, but its depth leaves something to be desired. Still, it could be read as a promising sign for the youngsters, like Colzie and Diggs, that Keys didn't feel he had a path to much playing time this season. 

More worryingly for Notre Dame, this is the third player from the two-deep roster it has lost for the season in the last two weeks. First it was linebacker Marist Liufau, who was expected to start on the weak side before he went down with an ankle injury just before fall camp ended. Then, in the opener against Florida State, rover Paul Moala tore his Achilles, the second straight season he's suffered such a tear. Throw in starting left tackle Blake Fisher, who sprained his knee against the Seminoles and the Irish are not as deep a team as they were at the start of training camp.

Coach Brian Kelly will likely address Keys' decision when he speaks with the media Thursday prior to Notre Dame's game against Toledo on Saturday.

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