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‘Possession receiver’ Rico Flores Jr. signs, could make immediate impact

Perhaps no position has more riding on it for the Irish in their 2023 recruiting class than wide receiver. The unit lacked both depth and true game-breaking talent in 2022, and the numbers backed it up. Notre Dame’s top three wide receivers combined for 855 yards and six touchdowns. Junior tight end Michael Mayer tallied 805 yards and nine scores all on his own. Even acknowledging Mayer’s first-round talent and that he’s one of the most dominant tight ends in the sport, that type of production from wide receivers simply isn’t up to Notre Dame’s standards.

The Irish have unquestionably checked off the depth box with its 2023 haul. Notre Dame’s class includes four wideouts, the most the Irish have brought in for one recruiting class since 2015. But quality matters, too, especially given the state of the receiving room. The Irish could have just three regular receivers from 2022 — sophomores Lorenzo Styles, Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas — returning next year. That means Notre Dame’s new young talents might be more than pieces for the future.

One of the pieces perhaps best equipped to meet that challenge is Rico Flores Jr. from Folsom, California. Flores Jr. is a four-star recruit according to Rivals, with offers from some of the nation’s top schools like Alabama and Georgia.

“[He] is a great possession receiver. He’s done a lot for his high school team — he had offers from Ohio State and Georgia… he’s another great talent,” said Rivals Notre Dame recruiting analyst Kyle Kelly. “With his potential and some of the depth chart concerns, he could see the field pretty early.”

Flores Jr. has put up some strong numbers over the last two years at Folsom High School. He enjoyed a breakout sophomore year in 2020, scoring 10 times despite playing in just six games. That turned into dominance over the last two seasons, as he recorded 81 receptions for 1,157 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021. His senior year has been just as strong, making 72 catches for 1,081 yards and eight scores. At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Flores Jr. isn’t the biggest, but that clearly hasn’t stopped him from dominating in high school.

The Irish are desperate for more production from their receivers. Some of their existing options definitely need to take a step forward. But for the Irish to improve their passing game to the standard of the sport’s best programs, they’ll need their young talent to step up. Flores Jr. is as good a bet to help the Irish make that leap as any of Notre Dame’s receiving recruits in 2023.

Contact Andrew McGuinness at amcguinn@nd.edu.

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