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 A-to-Z: Nick Coleman

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Nick Coleman

    Hailing from the same high school that brought the Irish Malik Zaire, incoming freshman Nick Coleman looks to infuse the same type of unlikely toughness to the secondary that Zaire brings to the quarterback position. Irish A-to-Z rolls on.

  2. Irish A-to-Z: Amir Carlisle

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Amir Carlisle Amir Carlisle

    Irish A-to-Z continues with Amir Carlisle. The winding on-field journey for the fifth year senior ends in 2015.

  3. Irish get commitment from safety Spencer Perry

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Spencer Perry

    Florida safety Spencer Perry committed to Notre Dame on Monday, a week after visiting campus for the Irish Invasion camp. The move followed Perry’s de-commitment from in-state power Florida, taking the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder from a Gator pledge to a member of Notre Dame’s rapidly growing 2016 recruiting class.

  4. Irish A-to-Z: Daniel Cage

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    One of the last members of Notre Dame’s 2014 recruiting class was one of the first people to make an impact on the field. Defensive tackle Daniel Cage is next in Irish A-to-Z.

  5. Greg Bryant suspension tests offensive depth chart

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Getty Images

    News broke Monday morning that running back Greg Bryant will be suspended for the first four games of the season. As first-reported by Irish 247, Bryant will miss a quarter of the regular season based on the dreaded-and-ambiguous “violation of team rules,” thinning a running back depth chart that was already down to just Bryant, returning starter Tarean Folston and converted wide receiver C.J. Prosise.

  6. Irish A-to-Z: Jimmy Byrne

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    via Twitter via Twitter

    Like the rest of his classmates along the offensive line, Jimmy Byrne spent 2014 learning the ropes and hitting the weight room. Redshirt off, Irish A-to-Z continues with the Ohio native.

  7. Irish land top 2017 TE Brock Wright

    Jun 26, 2015, 10:28 PM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    Texas tight end Brock Wright has committed to Notre Dame, adding another elite recruit to the Irish tight end pipeline. Wright is a 2017 prospect who camped in South Bend last week for Irish Invasion.

  8. Irish A-to-Z: Devin Butler

    Jun 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Purdue v Notre Dame

    With KeiVarae Russell suspended and Cody Riggs hurt, Devin Butler got his chance to be a starting cornerback. It wasn’t necessarily a positive experience. We look ahead to an important season for the junior defensive back.

  9. Offseason Q&A: UMass

    Jun 26, 2015, 11:07 AM EDT

    Massachusetts v Vanderbilt Getty Images

    After a difficult three-game stretch to start Notre Dame’s season, the Irish will welcome UMass to South Bend, a game that was originally intended to match up former Irish offensive coordinator Charley Molnar with his previous employer.

  10. Report: Irish might be adding OL Jurkovic

    Jun 25, 2015, 6:07 PM EDT

    An Irish Illustrated report says that Notre Dame might add a piece to the 2016 recruiting class, with touted offensive lineman and one-time Ohio State commit Mirko Jurkovic Jr. in the crosshairs.

  11. Irish A-to-Z: Greg Bryant

    Jun 25, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Greg Bryant has yet to play up to the 5-star status he entered South Bend possessing. Now for the good news: He’s got three more seasons to try.

  12. Irish A-to-Z: Chris Brown

    Jun 24, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Getty Images

    Chris Brown enters his senior season in South Bend, still looking to build on a magical start. Irish A-to-Z rolls along, knowing that we’ve got a long way to go before the start of the season.

  13. Irish A-to-Z: Justin Brent

    Jun 24, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT

    Justin Brent, Devin Butler Justin Brent, Devin Butler

    There are good debut seasons. And then there are debut seasons like the one Justin Brent just had. Let’s take a closer look at the sophomore receiver as Irish A-to-Z continues.

  14. Offseason Q&A: Georgia Tech

    Jun 24, 2015, 1:43 PM EDT

    Justin Thomas, Synjyn Days Justin Thomas, Synjyn Days

    Last year, Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech team burst onto the scene, nearly wrestling the ACC championship away from Florida State in a primetime showdown. While the Yellow Jackets didn’t pull out the victory, they sprinted away from Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl and won by double-digits, capping off an 11-win season.

  15. OLB/DE Jamir Jones commits to Notre Dame

    Jun 23, 2015, 4:16 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    Notre Dame’s quick-growing 2016 recruiting class is adding another familiar name. Rochester defensive end Jamir Jones, brother of starting defensive tackle Jarron Jones, committed to the Irish coaching staff on Tuesday, fresh off receiving his offer. He joins Julian Okwara—brother of Romeo—as younger siblings of Irish players in the 2016 recruiting class.

  16. Irish A-to-Z: Miles Boykin

    Jun 23, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Property of Sun-Times media Property of Sun-Times media

    Notre Dame protected the Chicagoland area when they landed receiver Miles Boykin. An All-State performer and a summer riser on the recruiting trail when he picked Notre Dame, Boykin’s a big-bodied physical receiver who has the look of an offensive mismatch.

  17. Offseason Q&A: Virginia

    Jun 22, 2015, 7:02 PM EDT

    Mike London Mike London

    Part two in our series looking at Notre Dame’s 2015 opponents. Jay Pierce of Streaking the Lawn gives us a look at Virginia.

  18. Irish Invasion lands recruits Jalen Elliott and Kevin Stepherson

    Jun 21, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    150608_MalikZaire Getty Images

    Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class expanded this weekend, with the Irish Invasion camp leading to commitments.

  19. Notre Dame staff prepares for Irish Invasion

    Jun 19, 2015, 9:07 AM EDT

    Malik Zaire Malik Zaire

    Notre Dame’s biggest recruiting weekend of the summer is upon us, with the Irish Invasion camp bringing over 100 high school football players to campus. With the recruiting efforts led by Mike Elston and player personnel director Dave Peloquin, the Irish staff has turned their summer camp into one of the biggest events on the circuit.

  20. Irish A-to-Z: Jonathan Bonner

    Jun 18, 2015, 8:04 AM EDT

    Property of the Elkhart Truth Property of the Elkhart Truth

    Sophomore Jonathan Bonner’s momentum was halted this April when he became one of the only injury casualties of the spring. A turf toe surgery kept Bonner from making a statement at strongside defensive end, a spot where the 275-pounder looked to settle in after some moves over the past calendar year.