Skip to content

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.

JAMES ONWUALU
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.)

***

Latest Posts
  1. Irish draft hopefuls audition at ND Pro Day

    Mar 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Former Irish football players had their chance to audition for future employers today in South Bend at the Notre Dame Pro Day. It was a reunion of sorts as players from all over worked out inside the Gug under the watchful eyes of NFL scouts.

  2. NBCSN to televise 86th annual Blue-Gold game

    Mar 30, 2015, 7:48 PM EDT

    Everett Golson

    Just because Notre Dame Stadium isn’t open for business doesn’t mean the Blue-Gold game will be interrupted. After considering off-campus venues like Soldier Field and Lucas Oil Stadium, Brian Kelly will hold his final practice of the spring, the 86th annual Blue-Gold Game, on the LaBar Practice Fields. And it’ll be televised by NBC Sports Network.

  3. Redfield and Shumate rising to the occasion

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:17 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Arizona State Getty Images

    There’s no contingency plan at safety this fall. While Cal transfer Avery Sebastian will add some much needed depth, the starting jobs as Notre Dame’s last lines of defense belong to Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate.

  4. Spring Mailbag: Getting physical, Jarrett Grace, and the Defense

    Mar 29, 2015, 11:18 PM EDT

    Temple v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Let’s close up the mailbag while also showing some appreciation to the incredible effort given by Mike Brey’s basketball team.

  5. Video Roundup from Spring Practice

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly, Malik Zaire Brian Kelly, Malik Zaire

    With Brian Kelly hosting his annual coaches clinic, Notre Dame’s practice field is filled with high school coaches (and some intriguing recruits) taking a look under the hood of the Irish program.

  6. Spring Mailbag: Tillery, Optimism, and practice updates

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT

    247Sports.com 247Sports.com

    Let’s get to part one of the mailbag. Some very good questions here, so check back over the weekend as there’ll be more to come.

  7. Bars and Nelson impressing at left guard

    Mar 26, 2015, 1:37 PM EDT

    Quenton Nelson

    Matt Hegarty’s unexpected departure opened up a job along the offensive line. With fifth-year center Nick Martin back in the middle, Hegarty choosing to go somewhere else to play center opened up the competition at left guard.

  8. Expectations for Jerry Tillery sky high

    Mar 25, 2015, 1:17 PM EDT

    247Sports.com 247Sports.com

    Jerry Tillery’s recruitment was anything but ordinary. Long committed to the Irish, Notre Dame held off LSU, with Les Miles and the Tigers’ coaching staff doing everything they could to talk the local product into staying home.

  9. Spring practice mailbag: Now Open

    Mar 25, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT

    New Mailbox

    Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  10. After injury detour, Jarrett Grace looks to be back on track

    Mar 24, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    Temple v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While our inside looks at Notre Dame’s spring practice have been few and far between (blink and you could miss the footage from the YouTube practice reports), the little news that’s been coming out of the Gug has been good.

  11. Elston ready to make his mark on Notre Dame recruiting

    Mar 23, 2015, 3:26 PM EDT

    USA Today USA Today

    Notre Dame landed three recruiting commitments coming out of the weekend’s Junior Day. And if it’s up to Mike Elston, there’ll be plenty more where that came from.

  12. Running back Tony Jones Jr. commits to Irish

    Mar 22, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    Rivals Rivals

    This weekend’s Junior Day netted another recruit, with Notre Dame’s coaching staff accepting the commitment of Florida running back Tony Jones Jr. The IMG Academy runner was in South Bend this weekend, and is the first running back in the fold for the Irish in the 2016 class.

  13. Junior Day nets commitments from Julian Love, John Shannon

    Mar 21, 2015, 8:37 PM EDT

    Rivals Rivals

    Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class took a big step forward on Saturday, gaining commitments from cornerback Julian Love and long snapper John Shannon. Both Love and Shannon pledged their commitment after receiving offers this afternoon from the Irish staff.

  14. 2016 recruiting begins with weekend Junior Day

    Mar 20, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT

    Rivals Rivals

    Notre Dame’s coaching staff begins their 2016 recruiting efforts this weekend with its first on-campus Junior Day. While the reshuffled staff had an opportunity to hit the road in February, the Irish coaches will host their first major recruiting event of the spring this weekend.

  15. Jeff Quinn officially joins staff as offensive analyst

    Mar 19, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Jeff Quinn Jeff Quinn

    When Notre Dame announced Brian Kelly’s reshuffled coaching staff, one name many expected to be part of the release wasn’t. Former Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn—an offensive coordinator and line coach for Kelly for decades—had been long rumored for a staff position, but wasn’t part of Kelly’s reshuffled team of assistants.

  16. Two different roads to return for Russell and Williams

    Mar 19, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    Notre Dame at USC AP

    As Brian Kelly kicked off spring practice with his press conference Tuesday, he gave a long-awaited update on exiled players KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams.

  17. Video Roundup: Spring Practice Begins

    Mar 18, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT

    Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Getty Images

    Notre Dame kicked off spring practice bright and early Wednesday morning. With our first look at the Irish as they prepare for the 2015 season, Brian Kelly’s troops were ready for action, even if they were relegated to helmets and shorts.

  18. Irish open spring: Five quick updates from BK

    Mar 17, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    With Irish eyes already smiling thanks to St. Patrick’s Day, Notre Dame fans got a free double-down with Brian Kelly’s opening press conference before spring practice starts tomorrow.

  19. Notre Dame, Ball State set to meet in 2018

    Mar 16, 2015, 4:27 PM EDT

    Pete Lembo Pete Lembo

    It looks as if another piece of Notre Dame’s non-ACC football scheduling has come into place. Ball State has announced an agreement to play at Notre Dame Stadium in early September of 2018, likely locking in the Irish’s second opponent of the season.

  20. The road to a successful 2015 season is just getting started

    Mar 16, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports

    After Notre Dame’s men won an improbable ACC basketball title, the team and their head coach did little to shy away from their difficulties in the NCAA tournament.

    #NotDoneYet adorns every tweet coming from the team’s official account, and likely serves as a mantra for a team that’s shown flashes of brilliance during regular seasons past, but too often became pumpkins in mid-March.