Best of the best: The highest-ranked Notre Dame WR classes and QB, RB prospects of the last 10 years

photos -jpgby:Ashton Pollard02/11/22

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Notre Dame’s 2022 recruiting class is its highest-ranked group as a whole since 2013. But when broken down to just their position groups, how do the incoming freshmen rank with other classes since 2013? 

This is the fourth piece in a series examining Notre Dame recruiting classes by position group over the last 10 years. The first story covered safeties and cornerbacks, the second covered linebackers and defensive linemen, and Thursday’s looked at offensive line and tight end.

We end with the most visible positions on an offense: receiver, quarterback and running back.

The rankings and positions cited below are based on On3 Consensus, a complete and equally weighted industry-generated average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.

Note: The following rankings are done based on how the player was listed by On3 at the time he signed. Notre Dame may have used him in another position once he arrived on campus.

Wide receiver – 2021 (sort of)

Coming in at the top with a recruiting ranking of 92.975 is the 2022 class. Exciting? Sure. The only problem: there is only one recruit in the class.

Tobias Merriweather is the sole incoming freshman wideout, and there is certainly a well-known receiver shortage at Notre Dame at this time. Of the four recruiting services, On3 has him listed the lowest with a No. 219 national rank. His On3 Consensus ranking is No. 132 nationally, No. 23 at receiver and No. 2 out of Washington. He may get extensive playing time sooner rather later depending upon how the wide receiver position shakes out at Notre Dame before the fall.

The No. 2 class behind Merriweather’s ranking is the 2014 duo of Justin Brent and Corey Holmes. Brent was converted to running back and transferred to Nevada ahead of the 2017 season, while Holmes transferred to Purdue that same year.

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Because the top two classes in these rankings skew this metric, the 2021 class deserves a shoutout. Last year’s freshman class of Lorenzo Styles, Deion Colzie, Jayden Thomas and Chance Tucker had a collective recruiting ranking of 91.700, which technically comes in at No. 3 on this list but is the highest rating amongst classes with at least three receivers.

Styles and Colzie look like rising stars for Notre Dame. Styles ended his freshman campaign on a high note, catching eight balls for 136 yards and his first career touchdown against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. He finished with a total of 24 receptions for 344 yards and the aforementioned score. Styles also had an exciting 37-yard run against Virginia in November.

Colzie had a smaller role in the offense, but expect it to grow in 2022. He totaled four catches for 67 yards last season. Thomas played a total of 14 snaps in 2021 and recorded no stats. Tucker has been covered to a cornerback at Notre Dame.

The highest-rated wide receiver recruit Notre Dame has signed in the last 10 years was Jordan Johnson in 2020 with a 95.500 rating. Johnson ultimately transferred to UCF after his freshman year.

Quarterback – 2015

Recruiting classes typically have just one quarterback. As a result, looking at this position by class is misleading. Instead, here are some notes on the highest-ranked signal callers to play at Notre Dame in the last 10 years.

Former Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush sits a top the list by a wide margin (96.067). He was the No. 1 recruit in Notre Dame’s 2015 class. Wimbush started for Notre Dame for just one full season, a 2017 year in which he threw for 1,870 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ultimately transferred to UCF in 2019 after Ian Book became the starter at Notre Dame during the 2018 season.

Sitting at No. 2 is 2021’s Tyler Buchner (93.850), and in the third spot is 2018’s Phil Jurkovec. Jurkovec is now the starting quarterback at Boston College.

Of course, Book, a former three-star recruit with an On3 Consensus ranking of 88.367, finished his Notre Dame career as the all-time winningest quarterback in program history and sits in second place in both career passing yards and touchdowns in Irish history books behind Brady Quinn.

Just two Notre Dame quarterbacks from the last 10 recruiting classes were drafted to the NFL: DeShone Kizer (second round to the Cleveland Browns in 2017) and Book (fourth round to the New Orleans Saints in 2021).

Notre Dame’s 2022 quarterback is three-star Steve Angeli out of famed Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic. He enrolled early in January.

Running back – 2013

Similar to quarterback, running back classes are typically very small. Notre Dame has not signed more than two running backs in a class since 2013, so the class rankings are more difficult. That being said, there are a couple of notable duos the Irish have signed at the same time.

In 2013, Notre Dame signed Florida natives Greg Bryant (95.867) and Tarean Folston (93.667), both of whom were top-five recruits in the class. Bryant finished at Notre Dame with just 57 attempts for 303 yards and three scores. He ultimately transferred to UAB, and he died tragically in a shooting in 2016.

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Folston had a promising freshman campaign and a relatively productive four years at Notre Dame. The running back finished his college career with 1,712 yards and 11 touchdowns. A 2015 torn ACL certainly hindered his production. He was named to the Doak Walker Award watchlist in 2015 and 2016, which is the award given to the nation’s top running back.

The 2015 class was the most successful on the list. Dexter Williams and Josh Adams arrived at Notre Dame with an average ranking of 91.433. They both became stars. Adams tore up the competition in 2017, averaging 7.3 yards per carry en route to a 1,386-yard season. Midway through the season, he was in the Heisman Trophy conversation after posting five games with more than 150 yards in Notre Dame’s first eight contests. Adams was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets in his first three years in the NFL. He is currently on the Saints practice squad.

Williams was taken by the Green Bay Packers in the 2019 NFL Draft after rushing for 995 yards and 12 touchdowns on 150 attempts (6.3 yards per carry) in his final season at Notre Dame. He was most recently signed to the Browns roster in January 2022.

Jadarian Price is Notre Dame’s sole running in the 2022 class. He was a four-star recruit out of Denison (Texas) High with a recruiting rating of 91.100.

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