It’s no secret that Notre Dame missed on some of its top wide receiver targets in the Class of 2013, but the Irish still managed to haul in four prospects that they really, really wanted.
Illinois’ Laquon Treadwell was rated by many as the top wideout this cycle and Notre Dame clearly had him ranked highly on its own board. Treadwell seemed to pay Notre Dame just enough attention to keep the Irish interested, but was never really a realistic option. Still, Irish fans should be happy that he’s landing at Ole Miss instead of longtime favorite Michigan.
Notre Dame was in early on prospects like Alvin Bailey (Florida), Ahmad Fulwood (Florida), Reggie Davis (Georgia) and Uriah LeMay (Georgia), but couldn’t swing any out of the SEC. DeMarcus Robinson called Notre Dame his leader during the summer and came back for an official visit, but Robinson flip-flopped between Florida and Clemson all of the way.
The Irish were very high on Robert Foster from the very beginning and while he didn’t have any significant interest, he wouldn’t have been able to be cleared either way.
Still, the Irish were able to land an early commitment from a wideout prospect who would end up recruiting as much as anybody. They identified a couple under-the-radar players and plucked another away from a Big Ten program.
James Onwualu wasn’t a big-name prospect early in the process, but he was steadily compiling an impressive offer sheet when Notre Dame came along in January. That was basically the end of the process for the Cretin-Derham star who was looking for a solid mix of athletics, academics and a family atmosphere.
He committed to Brian Kelly in March and before he left Kelly’s office, he committed to helping the Irish staff bring in the best class as possible. Onwualu made good on that promise a couple weeks later when he returned to South Bend to help Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts at Junior Day. There were seven uncommitted players at that event who ended up signing with the Irish and Onwualu was in the ear of all of them.
Onwualu was as pro-active in terms of recruiting as any prospect in the class – probably as much as any prospect in the country.
While Onwualu had several big-time offers before Notre Dame, the Irish were Corey Robinson’s first legit BCS offer and the son of David Robinson took them up on it shortly after that Junior Day. Offers from schools like Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina and Wake Forest would follow, but his pledge was solid from the start and he enrolled early with Onwualu last month.
Will Fuller didn’t have a super impressive offer sheet, but wasn’t really looking for offers from several schools. Early on, he identified Penn State and Notre Dame as the schools he was interested in.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin watched Fuller work out during the spring and it seemed like an offer would be coming, but Penn State came through with one first and Fuller jumped on it. The Irish got a second chance when the NCAA announced stiff sanctions against the Nittany Lions during the summer and Irish assistant Harry Hiestand pounced.
Hiestand wasted no time making sure Fuller’s transcripts were in order, extending a scholarship and getting him out to South Bend for an unofficial visit. Fuller gave the Irish his commitment before leaving, but waited until he reached Penn State to decommit before making the news public. Fuller could end up seeing time in the secondary, but figures to start off at receiver.
Like Robinson, Torii Hunter Jr. was another Texas receiver prospect with a pro athlete father who the Irish were in on early. Hunter Jr. had some decent offers, but already had plans to take an unofficial visit to South Bend before he really hit the national stage by winning MVP at The Opening.
Hunter even took a visit to Princeton on the summer tour that brought him to South Bend. The Irish moved to the top of his list after that unofficial and he committed to the Irish during an official visit in September.
Once they landed Hunter, the Irish stopped recruiting several other receiver targets like Devon Allen and Jordan Cunningham, but would have welcomed a pledge from Treadwell or Robinson.
This year’s haul may not feature a five-star talent, but there’s no doubt Kelly and his crew got four receivers they had their eyes on early in the process and wanted.