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Early Enrollees: James Onwualu

Feb 5, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

James Onwualu

The Notre Dame pipeline from St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall continues with athlete James Onwualu. One part football player, one part Swiss Army knife, Onwualu will enter Notre Dame as a wide receiver, but has the skillset capable to play multiple positions on either side of the football. One of the earliest commitments to the Irish, Onwualu also earned his keep on the recruiting trail, helping to build the Irish’s heralded ’13 recruiting class.

St. Paul, Minnesota

Measureables: 6-foot-1, 203-pounds
Accolades: First-team All-State running back, AP and MN Football Coaches. Four-star recruit Rivals, ESPN. All-State running back/wide receiver/defensive back by St. Paul Pioneer Press. Led conference scoring with 116 points.
Impressive Offers: Cal, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin
Projected Position: Outside wide receiver (for now)

Quick Take: Signed to play the outside receiver position for the Irish, Onwualu was a true offensive hybrid player at CDH, dominant as a receiver, running back, return man and safety. With natural size and speed (Onwualu trained daily, but never lifted weights), he was a powerful player that’ll only get bigger, stronger and faster now that he’s in a collegiate training program. Drastically improved from junior to senior season.

Dangerous with the ball in his hands, even if he doesn’t have elite top-end speed. Could transition to the slot, playing a hybrid role of runner and catcher. Could also play his way to the defensive side of the ball, with cover skills, quickness and physicality needed to play boundary corner or safety. (Think Bennett Jackson without the track speed.)

What it means for the Irish roster: With strong intangibles off the field, Onwualu was an early offer by the Irish coaching staff, even if they needed to do a little projecting. But the faith in Onwualu paid off and his game not only developed on the field, he became another recruiter for the Irish off the field. Onwualu logged a ton of miles during the offseason, a regular at just about every camp or recruiting combine in the Midwest. With depth at running back and wide receiver not overflowing, finding a place for Onwualu should be easy enough. Developing in a ready-made high school program, and enrolling early, might help him onto the field sooner than later as well.

Obligatory YouTube highlight tape: These are highlights from James’ senior season. You can find another link here, but the quality isn’t as good. (And it’s missing the awesome music.)


  1. andy44teg - Feb 5, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Didn’t I hear some urban legend about this kid being able to jump out of a pool of water up to his waist??

    • nudeman - Feb 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      2 years ago the Bears drafted a guy who had a video of him doing that that went viral
      Last name Gilbert from San Jose State, I believe. Lineman.
      High pick; like the 2nd or 3rd round

      Got cut in training camp

      Just sayin’ …

    • dickasman - Feb 5, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      I am like jarron Gilbert in that regard. I could stand on my boner but ask me how far that got me? Well pretty deep w the ladies but not in life.

    • dickasman - Feb 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      Btw Andy do u know if he peed in the water first?Pee helps w gravity so anybody can do it!

  2. keelio19 - Feb 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    You heard correct Andy, but it’s not like he did it just once, he did it like 20-50 times, I’m not really sure the exact number of times, but yeah, he’s a beast, it may be on youtube? He’s been training with the same trainer that Trained Michael Floyd, and the trainer has been quoted saying that James is a freakish athlete and is a lot further along in his training than Floyd was at this stage of training. Very promising prospect here! Go Irish!

    • dickasman - Feb 5, 2013 at 6:01 PM

      I used to be able to bench press 225 18x when I weighed 170 but yet I find my self here with all the other losers

  3. dickasman - Feb 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Manti teo did a number on me. I’m afraid to like any of these kids anymore. They r all scumbags first unless they prove themselves otherwise.

    • bernhtp - Feb 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      Manti did prove himself. Why the anger? Do you think he stole your online girlfriend?

      • dickasman - Feb 5, 2013 at 10:37 PM

        I don’t think manti has the balls to steal my online gf. He’d have to go to onlinefriendfinder dot com and that’s too ballsy for him. They don’t “mess” around over there!

    • shaunodame - Feb 5, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      dumb comment

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