Re-Stocking the Perimeter

A trio of Brian Kelly's 11 Skill profile recruits from the 2012 recruiting class are presently slated for duty at wide receiver. With the addition of James Onwualu to next year's class, Kelly's offense receives aid in an area of need for 2013.

At 6'1" 185 pounds, and with a purported skill set that includes both attacking the ball at its highest point and the ability to run through tackles, new Irish commit and Cretin-Durham (Saint Paul, MN) product James Onwualu will join a host of young, presently untested potential play-makers for an evolving Irish offense.

Cretin-Durham head coach Mike Scanlan told's Brian Dohn, "I think he can play running back, wide receiver or safety. I don't know what they have him slotted as, but I think he can play all-around. He plays very tough, very competitive, very focused."

(Scanlan dropped the hallowed, Hall of Fame name of "Marcus Allen" for the sake of reference.)

His future head coach offered the evolution of the team's offense includes slot receivers as part-time backfield competitors, with Theo Riddick the assumed example entering 2012.

Likely a wide receiver for the Irish, Onwualu will join the program after 5th-year senior John Goodman and seniors Robby Toma and Riddick exhaust their collegiate eligibility.

Each of Notre Dame's last three recruiting cycles were impacted by either transfer or position moves among its wide receiver prospects: 2009 freshman Shaquelle Evans transferred; 2010 freshmen pass-catchers Bennett Jackson and Austin Collinsworth were moved to the defensive secondary, and longtime 2011 commit Deontay Greenberry chose to attend school elsewhere at the 11th hour.

As a result, the 2013 wide receivers corps will continue to present opportunity for incoming competitors.

2013 Wide Receivers

All players are listed in terms of their class for 2013, not the upcoming season:

  • Senior T.J. Jones: Will likely entering 2013 as a four-year starter and the team's leading career receiver.

  • Senior Luke Massa: 2013 will be the third at the position for the 6'5" former quarterback recruit. Massa is eligible through 2014 but has yet to catch a pass, serving mostly as a special teams player as a redshirt-freshman last season.

  • Senior Daniel Smith: Appeared in just one game (Navy) due to a series of leg ailments since last spring. Smith, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, played the final seven games of 2010 as a true freshman kick coverage specialist, but like Massa, has yet to catch a collegiate pass.

  • Junior DaVaris Daniels: Will make his field debut in 2012 and is expected to compete for a key role in the rotation. Daniels is eligible through 2015.

  • Junior Matthias Farley:An X-factor in 2012, Farley worked in the slot for the Scout Team last season and if he continues on that track, would be in line for a starting role at the position entering 2013 after the graduation of Toma (and Riddick). Like Daniels, Farley is eligible through 2015.

  • Sophomore Justin Ferguson: Incoming 2012 freshmen could find field time thanks to his aggressive style and ability to get down field.

  • Sophomore Chris Brown: Kelly's diamond in the rough in the 2012 class, the 6'3" Brown will begin his career on the perimeter of the Irish offense.

  • Sophomore Davonte' Neal: Late 2012 signee will be among the team's quickest player the moment he steps on campus next summer.

Note: The loss of cornerback Tee Shepard this week could result in evaluation at cornerback for either Davonte Neal or Matthias Farley. Neal was rated a 5-star CB prospect by; Farley a 4-star safety prospect in the 2011 cycle.

Onwualu will enter a group in flux in 2013. It's likely that two, if not three of the players listed above yet to catch a college pass could be firmly entrenched as starters in entering fall 2013. The 2013 (and especially 2014) seasons will feature a handful of offensive players not yet household names among Irish fans.

A wildly speculative, way-too-early look at the spring/fall 2013 two-deep shows Onwualu joining the following:

X Receiver: T.J. Jones, Justin Ferguson, Luke Massa
W Receiver: Davaris Daniels, Chris Brown, Daniel Smith (status the result of past performance/injuries, not a prediction on my part)
Slot Receiver: Matthias Farley, Davonte' Neal Top Stories