A year ago, on the early Signing Day, one of the biggest storylines for Notre Dame was the huge miss at wide receiver from former wide receiver coach Del Alexander. Needing a big hit at receiver, Alexander whiffed big time with just a lone signee after losing two commitments in the final week. A year later, Chansi Stuckey showed why Marcus Freeman was wise not to retain Alexander and replace him with the up-and-coming Stuckey despite his lack of experience.
Notre Dame signed four wide receivers on Wednesday, including three four-star players a year after inking just one, albeit very talented, wide receiver in Tobias Merriweather. Stuckey dialed up his Texas connections from his brief time at Baylor to reel in three receivers from the Lone Star State and a fourth from California, giving Notre Dame one of its best wide receiver classes in years.
In less than a year on the job, Stuckey signed more receivers in a single class than Alexander ever did during his time at Notre Dame. When all the signatures were in, Notre Dame added:
- Rico Flores (6-0, 177 lbs, 4-star, North Highlands, CA)
- Jaden Greathouse (6-2, 200 lbs, 4-star, Austin, TX)
- Braylon James (6-2, 191 lbs, 4-star, Austin, TX)
- Kaleb Smith (5-11, 170 lbs, 3-star, Frisco, TX)
Not only is the group of receivers Notre Dame signed highly talented, but they also complement each other extremely well too. Flores and James are prototypical outside receivers, while Greathouse could play outside or inside as a big slot. Smith is the smaller, speedy receiver who is more of the prototypical slot receiver. All are very talented. All of whom bring a little something unique to the offense.
As a senior this year, Rico Flores hauled in 72 receptions for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns for Folsom High. During his prep career, Flores totaled 32 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards. Flores had offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oregon, Ohio State, USC, UCLA, and Texas.
Of all the wide receivers Notre Dame signed today, Jaden Greathouse is the most advanced and likely to see the field in 2023. Greathouse had a prolific career for Westlake High with 232 receptions, 4,035 yards, and 53 touchdowns. The 4,035 receiving yards are the 15th-most in Texas high school football history. He held offers from Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, and USC.
Braylon James is an Under Armour All-American after finishing his career with 1,795 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns – 727 of those yards and five touchdowns came on 38 catches this past fall. Arizona State, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, USC, and Texas A&M all offered. James gives Notre Dame a big-bodied outside receiver in the class.
The speedster of the group, Kaleb Smith caught 59 passes for 832 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022 for Reedy High in Frisco, Texas. He initially committed to Texas Tech, but flipped to Notre Dame during the season after the Irish turned up the heat in their pursuit after moving on from Taeshon Lyons.
A year ago, Notre Dame signed only Merriweather. Three years ago, Notre Dame signed a class of receivers that included Jordan Johnson, Jay Brunelle, and Xavier Watts. Only Watts remains on the roster but is now a full-time safety. Sandwiched between those two classes that have netted Notre Dame just a single receiver after three years was the class of 2021, which does look like a hit featuring Deion Colzie, Jayden Thomas, and Lorenzo Styles.
The last time Notre Dame signed four receivers in a single class was in 2018 – Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy, Lawrence Keys, and Micah Jones. Notre Dame is hopeful this year’s quartet is more successful, considering Jones and Keys didn’t finish their careers at Notre Dame, and between Austin and Lenzy, the two combined for just one season of more than 500 yards receiving.
The last few years of recruiting classes highlight how poorly Notre Dame has recruited the position outside of the class of 2021 trio of Styles, Thomas, and Colzie. Even that group still has more potential than production though Colzie and Thomas are ascending, and Styles flashed his talent last year even if 2022 was a disappointing campaign for the sophomore.
Stuckey already showed he could develop receivers with his work with Colzie and Thomas this year. In addition, he showed what he could on the recruiting trail on Wednesday with the haul he reeled in. If his first year with Notre Dame indicates things to come, the fortunes of the wide receiver room should be much brighter shortly.