Notre Dame received yet another important commitment on Sunday when Folsom (Calif.) High School 2023 wide receiver Rico Flores opted for the Irish over Ohio State and Georgia. One of the more productive wide receivers in the 2023 class, Flores brings a healthy resume that rivals the best in the nation.
As a junior, Flores caught 81 passes for 1,157 yards (14.3 YPC) and 11 touchdowns.
When you listen to Folsom head coach Paul Doherty, it would seem those numbers don't do justice to just how special of a player the California standout is. Doherty pulled down the curtain for what makes the star pass catcher tick.
One thing is certain, Flores isn’t your typical seventeen year old kid.
“He’s not a kid who needs to be entertained; he's all business but doesn’t take himself too seriously,” said Doherty. “The versatility he brings to the field is truly unmatched but I know Notre Dame stood out because they have the same mindset.
“Notre Dame said let’s go, let’s get to work and that’s all Rico knows how to do.”
Flores has quickly developed into one of the outstanding wide receivers to ever dawn a Folsom Bulldog uniform. It’s the work off the field that has separated him among his peers.
“The film speaks volumes of course,” Doherty explained. “Rico immediately jumps off the screen but what it doesn’t tell you is the maturity he brings, the work ethic. It’s a cliche but he is truly the hardest working kid on the team.
“He brings a different mentality and is incredibly driven,” he continued. “Rico will be your friend but he’s going to be your friend on the move. You can come with him if you want, but he has things to do; go to practice, go to class, go put extra work in, go to the NFL. Rico’s drive is unmatched.”
As a football player, nuance immediately jumps off the page. Flores brings a maturity to the position, boasting incredible command of the finer details of playing wide receiver.
His mentality, however, is again what separates him.
“He brings a high level of physicality to the game,” Doherty said. “Rico comes down with every football. He can block, has great hands, runs really good routes and is so competitive.”
Heading into his initial season with Folsom as a sophomore, Flores’ impact was delayed due to the global pandemic. It didn’t stop him from making an early impression. The coaches knew that they had something special quickly.
“We knew he was good early on. He transferred to us before his sophomore year but of course the season got derailed due to Covid,” explained Doherty. “We didn’t get to play our first game until the spring that year so we started up in March. It was against Oakridge.
"We were down four near the end of the game and Rico made this incredible catch down the sideline for about 50 yards,” reminisced Doherty. “I’ve been at Folsom for ten years and it may still be the best catch I’ve ever seen. He then catches a backside post for the game winner, in the biggest part of the game. That’s when we really knew how special he was.”
It should be no surprise to anyone that Flores also navigated the recruiting process with both class and maturity. Coach Doherty made sure to not interfere too much but navigating the chaos is a part of the job. It’s fair to say that there was not much pushback when Flores ultimately selected the Irish.
“I’m just impressed with him,” he explained. I tried to do my best to give him the freedom to make this his own process. I did make it clear that I was pulling for the Irish all along.
“I always told Rico that you need to make sure you go where you are really wanted and sometimes that is hard to figure out,” Doherty continued. “I just really hope he has a chance to enjoy this and takes a moment to sit back and take it in. It’s obviously a big deal for him, his family, our community and this program.”
There was a period of time when Ohio State was considered the leader for Flores. Ohio State filled up at the position before Flores was ready to commit, and the Buckeyes backed off late in the process.
That situation is not lost on Flores. Like everything, he intends to use it for motivation.
“(Rico) sees guys like Carnell Tate making their choices, heading to Ohio State,” Doherty explained. “Playing the Buckeyes in 17 months is on the forefront of his mind. While those guys will most likely be watching the game from the sideline, I guarantee that Rico is on the field making a difference for Notre Dame.”
On top of his pass game production, Flores also took his lone carry 52 yards, while also moonlighting as the team’s main kick and punt returner, averaging 31.4 and 13.1 yards per return respectively. He took one kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown.
He is a consensus four-star recruit across the board. Flores currently sits as the No. 106 player overall and No. 17 wide receiver in the 2023 class according to Rivals. He also ranks as the No. 9 player in the state of California, a state that Notre Dame has had some success in the past.
Ultimately, Notre Dame outlasted both Ohio State and Georgia. It is a massive pickup for the Irish who are still hunting for the No. 1 class in 2023.
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