Notre Dame Wide Receiver Class Remains A Work In Progress

Wide receiver recruiting has been a roller coaster in the 2022 cycle but a strong finish is in view
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Notre Dame has had a roller coaster ride when it comes to recruiting the wide receiver position in the 2022 class. Position coach Del Alexander and and the Irish staff have had some ups and plenty of downs when recruiting the receiver class. 

Notre Dame has had plenty of misses in the class, with players many assumed would end up in the class choosing to go elsewhere. Despite that Notre Dame is in position to have a very strong finish, and the finish is ultimately all that matters. There is some momentum building, but questions still remain about what the class ultimately will look like.

WILLIAMS ON THE VERGE OF A DECISION

The top two targets on the board for Notre Dame are obvious, and one of them is Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei wideout CJ Williams. The 6-2, 195-pound wide receiver plans to announce his commitment on Sunday (August 8). Notre Dame is a finalist for Williams and the Irish are trending in a strong direction with his recruitment.

Should Notre Dame land Williams it would be a huge recruiting win, as the staff would beat USC, Texas and Alabama for the talented pass catcher. Williams is also a talented pass catcher that brings physicality, a strong feel as a route runner and outstanding ball skills to the game.

Williams ranks as the nation's No. 29 overall player according to Rivals and he ranks No. 87 overall on the 247Sports composite ranking. He would certainly give Notre Dame a rankings boost, but he also gives the Irish offense the kind of high-volume pass catcher that it could certainly use more of.

Finishing will be the key for Notre Dame, but if the staff gets this one done it gives the wide receiver class a huge shot in the arm.

MERRIWEATHER TO DECIDE SOON?

The other top target on the board is Vancouver (Wash.) Union star Tobias Merriweather. The 6-4, 180-pound receiver graded out on my board as the No. 1 receiver target and a Top 50 national recruit. He's a long, rangy and very athletic player that also has an advanced feel for the game. All he has to do at this point is fill out and get stronger, but he has special tools.

Merriweather hinted in a recent instagram post that he is going to commit soon, which backed up intel that was posted on the Irish Breakdown premium message board.

Merriweather is a vastly underrated player when looking at most national recruiting services, with only 247Sports ranks in the Top 100 (No. 76). SI All-American has yet to release its SI99 for the 2022 class but Merriweather ranked as the No. 4 outside receiver in the class by SI All-American.

The talented Union wideout hasn't hinted about where he's going to end up, but Notre Dame and Stanford were the only two schools he officially visited this spring. USC, UCLA and Oregon are other schools that Merriweather is considering.

If Notre Dame is able to land both Williams and Merriweather it would be absolutely huge for the staff. They are both outstanding football players at a position of need and both have the talent to play from the minute they step foot on campus.

For Notre Dame it's all about .... stop me if you've heard this before .... finishing.

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH WALKER?

There are plenty of questions surrounding Notre Dame lone current wide receiver commit, Ponchatoula (La.) High School athlete Amorion Walker.

Of course the first batch of questions surrounds all the visits he took this summer. Walker traveled to Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU and other programs in June and recently trekked up to Michigan for their recruiting BBQ. Walker has insisted to the Notre Dame coaches that he is solid, but anyone that has followed recruiting over the last two decades knows that actions speak louder than words.

Let's just assume for a second that we accept that his June visits were about making trips with his team to work out, which is the claim, and let's assume Michigan and others aren't going to be able to flip Walker.

The other question is does Walker stay on offense. Alabama and Michigan both offered Walker this summer .... as a safety. What if Notre Dame misses on Xavier Nwankpa, could Walker end up moving to defense for the Irish? What if he pulls a Jerry Tillery and decides the key to staying in the Notre Dame class is being allowed to play defense? 

It's all speculation at this point, but there are enough of these types of questions with Walker to at least consider the notion that he won't be playing wide receiver at Notre Dame even if he ends up signing with the Irish.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Merriweather and Williams aren't the only wideouts left on the board. Amarillo (Texas) Tascosa speedster Major Everhart, Bluefield (Va.) Graham athlete Xayvion Bradshaw, Deerfield (Mass.) Academy big man Elic Ayomanor and Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher's wideout Andre Greene Jr. are also still being recruited by Notre Dame.

If Notre Dame is fortunate enough to land both Merriweather and Williams it should focus its attention on Everhart and Bradshaw. Simply put, Notre Dame needs to land at least one of Everhart and Bradshaw, two fast and athletic players that can do damage after the catch. Either (or both) would be great complements to Williams and Merriweather (if they pick the Irish).

This is true even if Walker flipped to another school or moved to defense. It's even more necessary should Walker remain in the class and should he be joined by Merriweather and Williams. 

THE DREAM

So what's the dream finish for Notre Dame? It's not hard to figure out, Notre Dame absolutely must close out the month of August with commitments from Williams and Merriweather. If the staff can get that done it would give the offensive class some much-needed momentum by adding at pair of Top 100 pass catchers.

Walker is a bit of an enigma. His high school film is underwhelming but his summer performance, which includes a reported 4.41 time at Alabama's camp, has been outstanding. Notre Dame wants him in the class, so keeping him must be considered part of the ideal finish.

If Walker is as good as Notre Dame thinks he is and is actually as fast as his summer times show the trio of Williams, Merriweather and Walker would be the best three-man haul since the Irish landed Chase Claypool, Javon McKinley and Kevin Stepherson in the 2016 class.

The final piece to the receiver puzzle would be adding either Bradshaw or Everhart. Do that and all the questions that were raised during the recruiting process would be gone and the Irish would add an incredibly talented group of pass catchers to the roster.

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