Notre Dame WR Will Fuller returns to end zone

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Will Fuller met an old friend again Saturday.

The Notre Dame wide receiver made trips into the end zone routine during his sophomore season in 2014. That relationship appeared to be on good terms with another touchdown in the Blue-Gold Game.

A 60-yard throw from Malik Zaire helped the two reunite. Fuller did the rest for the 68-yard score.

“That was perfect,” Fuller said of the throw from Zaire, easily the prettiest pass of the end-of-spring scrimmage at LaBar Practice Complex. “I had to keep running. I thought he (overthrew) me right there, but I stuck my hands out and caught it.”

Fuller said the plan was to connect deep early in the game. But the alignment of the secondary prevented many one-on-one chances. Fuller finally saw an opening in the second quarter and left cornerback Nick Watkins in his dust trail.

“Once I saw the safety on the hash,” Fuller said, “I took the opportunity.”

Almost all of Fuller’s 15 touchdown catches last season came from Everett Golson. A 12-yard completion against LSU in the Music City Bowl was the only touchdown throw to Fuller delivered by Zaire.

Saturday’s heave from Zaire flipped the book on the running quarterback. The consistency of his arm has been questioned in his competition with Golson. Zaire showed everybody he could rip it when needed.

“They both have great arms,” Fuller said. “They both put it out there.”

Fuller, Notre Dame’s No. 1 wide receiver headed into the fall, doesn’t have a preference on which quarterback receives the nod as the starter.

“We just try to catch everything that comes our way,” Fuller said. “They’re both doing a great job though. They’re both very competitive. I’ll play with either one of them.”

The only gaps wider than the ones Fuller created between himself and cornerbacks last season were the statistic gaps between him and the other Irish receivers. Fuller’s 76 catches for 1,094 yards were nearly double than anyone else on the roster. Corey Robinson finished second with 40 catches. Chris Brown racked up 548 receiving yards.

Fuller sees a wide receiver group developing into a well-rounded unit with younger players challenging the returning starters. He said the Irish offense has the chance to outscore anybody on a given day.

“I know we’re really deep at receiver so all the weight doesn’t have to be on me,” Fuller said. “We all go out there feeling like No. 1 receivers. If the opportunity presents itself to us, we’re in the right frame of mind.”

With Fuller leading the way on Saturday with three catches for 89 yards, there seems to be little doubt that he will remain the No. 1 receiving threat. That’s totally fine with Fuller. The only difference for him in 2015 may be the longer dreads of hair poking out of the back of his helmet.

“I don’t think we need one, but who doesn’t want to be the No. 1 guy?” Fuller said. “Receivers catch passes. I tell everybody, ‘You gotta be greedy. You gotta want it the most.’” | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame’s William Fuller (7) makes a touchdown reception in front of Nick Watkins (21) during Notre Dame's Blue-Gold spring football game on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the LaBar Practice Complex on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN