Receiver recruiting has long been one of Notre Dame’s great struggles. Incoming freshman Tobias Merriweather is exceedingly well-regarded, but no receiver is so good as to justify being the only receiver in his recruiting class. The Irish no longer have that exclusivity concern in the class of 2023 after the Sunday commitment from consensus four-star receiver Rico Flores Jr. (Folsom High School; Calif.).
The No. 17 receiver in the class and No. 106 overall prospect, per rivals.com, Flores joins consensus four-star Braylon James (Del Valle H.S.; Texas) as receivers in this class. An April commitment standing 6-foot-4, James is ranked as the No. 31 receiver and No. 205 overall recruit.
But back to Flores. He long considered Georgia and Ohio State, the latter seemingly filled up on top-tier receivers at the moment. When he canceled a planned trip to Georgia in the last few weeks, his Notre Dame pledge became imminent. Plenty of other blue-blood programs chased the 6-foot-2, 190-pound polished product, including Texas, Alabama, USC and UCLA.
Highlight reels are, by definition, somewhat deceiving, but Flores’ repeatedly showcases his downfield abilities. To say he is natural catching a ball over his shoulder sounds like a vague platitude, but the filmnik antonym would be “fighting the ball,” hardly an exact descriptor itself.
For not having truly blazing speed, Flores gets a step past his defender on plenty of downfield routes, and then he is able to pace his route with the pass such that the defender cannot get back around him. In that latter respect, already possessing a muscular frame only aids Flores.
Keep in mind, he is hauling in these passes in northern California, thus facing anything but shoddy competition.
Flores also makes quick, sharp cuts on routes. That may be even rarer at this level than his downfield acumen. Those cuts are amplified by quick acceleration out of them.
The 18th commit in the class of 2023, he is the third for Notre Dame just this holiday weekend.
He will join a position group still light on numbers. Presume the Irish return no sixth-year receivers next season. That will leave all of four receivers on the current roster, two of which still have four seasons of eligibility remaining. Flores and James obviously bring that total to six, but a modern college football offense typically needs 10 receivers to function properly through an entire season.