Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM AUGUST 2022 31 BY MIKE SINGER Notre Dame beat out finalists Geor- gia and Ohio State for Folsom (Calif.) High class of 2023 wide receiver Rico Flores Jr. on July 3. It was a long, multi- year recruiting process for the four-star playmaker, and Flores is thrilled with how it concluded. "I feel great to know that it's over," he said. "The stress is relieved, and every- one knows where I'm going. I don't have to keep it a secret. It's all the way finally done with, and I feel good about it." The Fighting Irish were considered the team to beat for Flores, who is the No. 42 wideout and No. 289 over- all prospect per On3, heading into his June 10 official visit. It was his first time at South Bend, and all went well, leading to his commitment. "I knew on my official visit," Flores said. "It was the vibe of everything — the coaches and the school. It's a really beautiful college. I already liked them. I just needed to take the visit. And once I did that, it was over." Flores told Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman of his commitment during the official visit, and they kept things quiet until Flores made his deci- sion public a few weeks later. Notre Dame's offer to Flores was made early — back in April 2021 — but he admits that he wasn't all that high on the Irish until Freeman became head coach at the end of the year. "I'll be honest, they weren't even go- ing to make my top 10 until they got the new coaching staff," Flores added. "I wasn't really feeling Notre Dame. I liked Coach Del [Alexander] a lot, but I never even talked to Coach [Brian] Kelly. I couldn't go to a school where I never talked to the head coach." Freeman was a key piece to Notre Dame earning Flores' pledge. Receivers coach Chansi Stuckey deserves a lot of credit too. "Right when he got the job, they were on me," Flores said about Free- man. "They got on the phone with me two or three times that week. I remember doing a Zoom with Coach Stuckey, and it was just great. They were re- ally showing love. I put trust in them, and we built a great relationship. I see how in- vested Coach Freeman is in his players and the kids he's recruiting." Some prospects commit to a program just to decommit and flip to another school at a later date; it happens all the time. Flores plans on staying true to Notre Dame, though. "I'm done," Flores said. "There's no convincing me. I'm set up in a great po- sition. I've been doing this recruiting process since my freshman year, and I'm done with it." Along with his finalists, Flores also held offers from Alabama, LSU, Michi- gan State, Oregon, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, USC and Washington. Flores made the MaxPreps' 2021 spring season California all-state first team. He caught 31 passes for 606 yards and 10 touchdowns during his six- game sophomore season. He had an outstanding ju- nior season, recording 81 re- ceptions for 1,157 yards and 11 touchdowns in a 15-game season. Flores made the 2021 MaxPreps All Sac-Joaquin Section first-team offense. Across 29 contests in his prep career, Flores has been highly productive, haul- ing in 129 passes for 2,141 yards (16.6 yards per catch) and 24 scores. Flores is committed to playing in the 2023 All-American Bowl in San Antonio next January. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE RICO FLORES JR. All-American Wide Receiver Picks The Irish Over Georgia And Ohio State FILM ANALYSIS "He's one of the best route runners in this cycle; he'd be on the short list. He is very adept at snap- ping off corners with his releases and change of direction within his routes. He's very technical and extremely developed. He plays at a great high school program at Folsom. He's a high floor guy, and I would not be surprised if he contributes early. "Flores is probably not as athletic and naturally gifted as some other national receivers, but he is a guy who just gets open consistently and works in the underneath and intermediate areas of the field. I could see him playing slot at Notre Dame. He can work over the middle of the field with his route- running ability." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power "They were really showing love. I put trust in them, and we built a great relationship. I see how invested Coach Freeman is in his players and the kids he's recruiting." FLORES ON THE NOTRE DAME STAFF Flores has been highly productive in his career at Folsom (Calif.) High, hauling in 129 passes for 2,141 yards (16.6 yards per catch) and 24 touchdowns. PHOTO BY CHAD SIMMONS/ON3.COM

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