The junior was on pace for a massive campaign last fall before a broken ankle ended his campaign after six games. He entered this season expected to compete for the Biletnikoff Trophy and ultimately become an early pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
That’s not how things have played out, though. Boutte missed one game due to the birth of his son, but in four appearances, he has just 11 catches for 97 yards. He’s also yet to find the end zone.
Speaking to the media Monday, coach Brian Kelly addressed potential causes behind that slow start.
“Part of this is building trust with a new quarterback. We’re trying to get him the football. He’s getting a lot of double coverage,” said Kelly. “We’re still winning, and he’s happy that we’re winning… He was happy we won the football game. Would he like the ball more? Absolutely. But he’s handled himself in the right way and he continues to work for the team.”
There may be more than pride at stake for Boutte. If his lack of production causes a slide in the draft, it could cost him millions. But Kelly said scouts will see the talent, regardless of the production.
“All those guys that make decisions about who the best receivers are in the country are still going to look at Kayshon and go, ‘That’s a really, really good wide receiver,’” he said. “Numbers are numbers. At the end of the day, he’s going to continue to play this game at the next level and the numbers won’t dictate where he gets drafted. It’s his ability to continue to play the game at the highest level,” said Kelly. “When you turn on the film, he’s running full speed, he’s beating the guys, and the ball didn’t come to him for whatever reason. That’s out of his control. So what Kayshon continues to do better each and every week is he controls what he can control. He does that in practice now and he does that in games.”
Kelly has said in the past that the coaches want to let the offense flow naturally rather than try to brute force involvement for Boutte. That said, he’s one of the top talents in the SEC. It would be a boon for the offense if it could manufacture some touches for him.