Notre Dame WR Miles Boykin forgoes fifth-year option, declares for NFL Draft

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

All but one of Notre Dame's receivers will be eligible to return next season. Unfortunately for the Irish, the receiver not returning is 6-foot-4, 228-pound Miles Boykin.

Boykin, ND’s top wideout in 2018, declared for the NFL Draft on Sunday. The New Lenox (Ill.) Providence Catholic product will forgo his fifth-year opportunity.

☘️☘️☘️ pic.twitter.com/wE4gu61hlI

— Miles Boykin (@MBoykin814) January 6, 2019

Boykin is the third Irish player to declare for the draft, joining cornerback Julian Love and tight end Alizé Mack. Boykin’s departure might be the most surprising of the three, as most analysts don’t project him to be selected in the first few rounds.

No other Irish players are expected to declare for the draft, as defensive ends Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara announced they will return for 2019. With the eligibility expiring for 12 ND players, Brandon Wimbush and Micah Dew-Treadway transferring, the aforementioned three departing for the NFL and 21 early signees hopping aboard, the Irish have 89 players set to be on scholarship.

The NCAA-mandated, 85-player limit does not have to be met until the first day of fall semester. The College Advisory Committee offered Boykin an NFL Draft grade, although he never shared it with the media.

“Miles is in the mix as a day three (rounds four through seven) guy, with speed and ability to separate being the major question marks,” Scott Wright, draft analyst for draftcountdown.com, sent through text. “He also joins a crowded pool that includes 22 (and counting) other underclassman wideouts.”

Losing their leader in receptions (59), receiving yards (872) and receiving touchdowns (eight), the Irish will now turn to a bevy of underclassman receivers. Of the 10 receivers slated to come back, five were true freshmen in 2018.

Irish signees Cam Hart of Olney (Md.) Good Counsel and Kendall Abdur-Rahman of Edwardsville (Ill.) High will also join the mix.

“Notre Dame is not going to miss Boykin that much,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “Boykin is a really good player, but they have talent to take his spot.”

Rising true sophomore Kevin Austin stands as the most likely candidate to replace Boykin. The 6-2, 210-pounder played in 11 games this season, missing the Nov. 17 Syracuse game in Bronx, N.Y., due to a “coach’s decision.” Austin caught five passes for 90 yards this season.

247Sports rated Austin, a Pompano Beach (Fla.) North Broward Prep product, four-stars and ranked him as the No. 14 receiver and No. 82 overall player for the 2018 class. Rivals labeled Austin as a four-star and slated him as the No. 15 receiver and No. 88 overall player.

“He’s got size and speed,” Lemming said. “I think what Notre Dame definitely needs at wide receiver — Boykin is a really good possession type receiver. Great hands, great build like a tight end. I think they would be benefiting from a guy like Austin who could spread a defense. I think Notre Dame needs a little faster guys that can keep the defense honest and spread them out. I think Kevin could be that guy.”

Former Irish receiver Tim Brown, the last ND player to hoist the Heisman Trophy, in 1987, told ND Insider over the weekend that the Irish need an uptick in speed on the perimeter.

“You know what this team needs? They need another Rocket Ismail,” said Brown of the former Irish speedster.

Austin turned 35 catches into 761 yards and 11 touchdowns as a high school senior.

“It sure looks like on the perimeter that they need some speed,” Lemming said. “Right now, it looks like they have a lot of tight end-like guys in (Chase) Claypool, and now Boykin is leaving. I think in the long run, it could benefit them more to keep the defense honest and spread it out with faster receivers.”

Notre Dame receiver Miles Boykin joins Julian Love and Alizé Mack by declaring for the NFL Draft.