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Lenzy makes adjustments to become true receiving threat

| Friday, October 9, 2020

Braden Lenzy takes a lot of ice baths.

The junior from Oregon was told he’d never be great if he didn’t.

Why’d he trust the man who told him so? Because it was Kobe Bryant.

A wide receiver embarking on his third season, Lenzy’s father used to work with the Black Mamba, a reality which gave his son the opportunity to learn from one of the world’s greatest athletes. Taking those lessons to heart, Lenzy is approaching this season differently — he even changed his number from 25 to zero to reinforce it.

“I switched to zero. It’s a pride thing,” Lenzy said. “When I looked at 25, it kind of reminded me of when I was in high school and early on in college — just a sprinter, just a runner or a track guy playing football. I thought getting a single digit number would kind of make me feel more like a true receiver, which I feel like that’s what I’ve developed into.”

The path to that development hasn’t been easy. In his freshman campaign, Lenzy didn’t see the field. As a sophomore, he played in nine games but only started two.

“Freshman year, in truth, it took me about three days to realize I wasn’t ready. I called my mom and dad, and I was like, ‘I’m doing the best I can, but just know, it might not happen this year,’” he said. “Then came into year two and didn’t play in the opening game. And my parents came and I was really frustrated because I thought I was gonna play. At that point, my whole goal was: I’m going to do whatever I can right now to play, and then in the offseason, I want to become like a true wide receiver.”

Erin Fennessy | The Observer
Irish junior wide receiver Braden Lenzy streaks down the sideline for what would become a 61-yard rushing touchdown during Notre Dame’s 40-7 win over Boston College on Nov 23 at Notre Dame Stadium.

Lenzy’s now had that offseason opportunity, but with COVID-19 protocols and a week-one hamstring injury, he hasn’t had the chance to showcase how far he’s come. Though he played against South Florida, he had just one carry and three receptions for 37 yards of total offense.

“I haven’t really been able to display that through spring ball,” Lenzy said. “I missed the first game, and I wasn’t fully healthy for USF. But, my hope and my goal is: one, to see us win, but two, that I can show my development and grow into myself and advance as a football player.”

Despite that disappointment, Lenzy feels anything but resentment for the fact that in his absence, his teammates have had the chance to shine.

“[Against Duke] I got to see my friends play. We had a good win. I got to see my family, who I hadn’t seen in months,” he said. “It sucks not to play, but at the end of the day, we won, and I got to play the next week [against USF]. So, it’s not the end of the world. And it was nice to suit up. But now I’m 100[%]. I’m excited, and I’m ready to play versus Florida State.”

Looking ahead to this week’s matchup against the Seminoles, Lenzy feels more ready than ever. The junior is projected to start as an outside receiver.

“Quarantine, and just COVID, it helped me mature and realize what my priorities are and what I want to focus on and who I want to be,” he said. “Anytime you get an opportunity to play a football game, you should be excited. Florida State’s no exception. They have some definite talent, but we aren’t going into the game treating them any different — we treat every team the same. Although we are excited to get to go one-on-one with potential first round picks, it’s the same preparation like how we would any week. We’re practicing hard every day and I expect big things from us.”

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