While Notre Dame will struggle to find enough receivers in 2022, it took a key step to solidifying that position group in 2023 and beyond with the Tuesday evening commitment of consensus four-star receiver Braylon James (Del Valle High School; Texas). James is the first, although assuredly not the last, receiver in the Irish class of 2023.
The No. 12 receiver in the class and No. 78 prospect in the country, per rivals.com, James narrowed his lengthy offer list, including schools like Georgia, LSU and Ohio State, down to just Notre Dame, Stanford and TCU before he made his choice on Tuesday. Coming from a suburb so close to Austin it would better be described as Austin and as the No. 14 recruit in Texas, it is worth noting James turned down scholarships from eight FBS programs in his homestate, not offered by only Houston, UTEP, Rice and Texas State.
Irish receivers coach Chansi Stuckey actually began his pursuit of James while at one of those eight, last year at Baylor, though that pursuit was only light at the time, in large part due to the constraints of the recruiting calendar. In Stuckey’s year-plus of coaching receivers, James is by far the highest-touted receiver he has landed a commitment from.
“There were a ton of coaches rolling in, but in terms of having a genuine conversation with any of them, coach Stuckey was the only one who seemed like he set aside the entire day for me,” James said to Inside ND Sports. “Our relationship is more than just football. We’re talking about different outlets of life. He is just a different person. He has this weird obsession with coffee; he is a foodie.
“He’s not your average person. In speaking with him, there is always something that you can learn. He has a lot of wisdom, and he is not even that old (38), which is outrageous. He is someone that I resonated with really, really well. And in terms of sharing the same ideas and being like-minded, I feel like that is there.”
At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, his frame should hold more weight as he matures, but he already shows a unique blend of balance and speed that makes him dangerous both downfield and along the sidelines. Broad field vision also helps James extend plays long after the catch, particularly when his quarterback has been forced to scramble.
James is the ninth pledge in Notre Dame’s class of 2023 after consensus four-star cornerback Justyn Rhett de-committed over the weekend. With only three offensive players included to date, the next few weeks could see an influx on that side of the ball after Freeman’s initial defensive surge upon being promoted to Irish head coach in December. At receiver, in particular, Notre Dame signed only Tobias Merriweather in the class of 2022, so a significant haul of James’ peers will be paramount for future roster construction.