View Full Version : '13 MN WR James Onwualu (3/14/12 Notre Dame LOI EE)

01-10-2012, 07:12 AM
Wide Receiver
St. Paul, Minnesota
Cretin-Derham Hall

Links of Interest:
James Onwualu - Yahoo! Sports (http://rivals.yahoo.com/notredame/football/recruiting/player-James-Onwualu-134662)

James Onwualu (http://247sports.com/Player/James-Onwualu-16601?pi=27437)

Weight:205 lbs
Class:2013 (High School)



James currently holds verbal offers from Iowa, MSU, Stanford, Minnesota and Purdue. Receiving interest from ND, Cal, Florida, scUM, Northwestern, Pitt, UCLA, U$C and Wisconsin. James is from Cretin-Derham Hall, which at one point was a feeder school for ND. Original home of ND's very own Michael Floyd. James has camped at ND, Florida and Stanford. He participated in both the UA Combine and the AA Army combine and was a standout at both.

01-10-2012, 07:13 AM
Another Cretin-Derham WR Likes ND (http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/6306-another-cretin-derham-wr-likes-nd) (free)

SAN ANTONIO - James Onwualu is getting ready for the next level by working out with somebody who is preparing for the next, next level.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior wide receiver from Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) is working with former Cretin-Derham Hall and Notre Dame standout, Michael Floyd. While Floyd is getting ready for the NFL Draft, Onwualu is getting himself ready for his senior season and ultimately college.

“Mike’s been a great friend of mine since I was younger,” said Onwualu, whose older brother John played with Floyd in high school.

“I always looked up to him and went to him for a lot of help as I was young, watching him play at Cretin-Derham Hall. Obviously, we know how he did there. He’s had great success in high school and college, so it’s been great watching him and being able to contact him to reach out for help and tips.”

Floyd’s been helping Onwualu with his fundamentals and speed.

“Mainly working on our routes. I’ve been working out with him, running some routes,” Onwualu said. “We’re both trying to work on our speed. He’s much faster than me, obviously, he’s a great athlete. Just working on all-around physical ability and everything.”

Onwualu has been clocked at 4.51 in the 40-yard dash and shined at the Under Armour Underclassmen Combine before standing out at the Army All-American Underclassmen Combine in San Antonio. He enjoys competing for sure.

“It’s great,” he said. “I love being around players that are the same caliber as me. I was fortunate enough to go to Under Armour All-American combine last week. I did well there, I was ranked number two out of everybody there. This is my passion. I love playing with kids who are as good as me and compete.”

Playing running back for Cretin-Derham, Onwualu had rushed for 1,092 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. A recent offer from Purdue gives him five total along with offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Stanford.

He made the rounds on the camp circuit this summer.

“I went down to Florida, I went out to Stanford and actually made a stop at Notre Dame as well,” he said.

Onwualu enjoyed his stop in South Bend.

“It was great,” he said. “Obviously, Cretin-Derham Hall has been kind of a tradition for a lot of players to go there and have a great time there. It was great finally meeting the coaches and finally being around the environment. It was one of my top schools.”

He’s kept in touch with Irish recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin.

“I’ve been talking to Coach Martin a lot actually,” he said. “They have high interest in me. They’re busy with their seniors, but hopefully we’re going to be able to get this started and possibly be a part of the team.”

If the Irish come through with an offer, they’d be a major player in Onwualu’s recruitment.

“That’s one of my top schools right now.”

01-19-2012, 05:41 PM
Looks like he is visiting this weekend. Anyone from Michael Floyd's High School is alright by me, except Seantrel, of course.

01-19-2012, 05:59 PM
Looks like he is visiting this weekend. Anyone from Michael Floyd's High School is alright by me, except Seantrel, of course.

and carufel....what ever become of ole matt anyway?

Purebred Irishman
01-21-2012, 03:32 AM

James Onwualu has already collected some BCS offers, but the 2013 athlete is hoping for more soon.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder from Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) already has offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue and Stanford. He’s hoping to land offers from Minnesota and Northwestern soon and maybe one from Notre Dame as early as this weekend when he takes an unofficial visit to South Bend.

Onwualu plays some running back at Cretin-Derham, but figures to be a full-time receiver on the next level. The last receiver to come to Notre Dame from Cretin-Derham did pretty well.

Onwualu has known Michael Floyd since Floyd played with Onwualu’s older brother at the prestigious private school and has been with Floyd as the Notre Dame record-setting receiver prepares for the NFL Draft.

For his part, Onwualu is preparing for college and is happy to see the Irish turn at least more of their focus toward the current junior class.

“They’ve been finishing out the class above me and a lot of different 2012 recruiting stuff, now they’ve started focusing on us,” said Onwualu, who was well aware of the situation with Gunner Kiel.

Onwualu has been in touch with Irish recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, who is happy to be hosting Onwualu this weekend.

“They're super excited,” said Onwualu. “And I’m excited to get back on the campus.”

Onwualu was on campus last summer, when he attended the Irish’s camp, but expects this trip to be different.

“The last time I was more in the mindset of going and performing,” he said. “This time I’m going to kind of be able to step back and see what goes on daily and get more background of the campus and different things like that; more of a hangout feel than going to perform.

“I’m going to watch the hockey game and the basketball game and kind of hang out there.”

Onwualu has made plenty of rounds already on the recruiting circuit. In addition to the Notre Dame camp this summer, he also made stops at Florida and Stanford before hitting both the Under Armour and Army underclassmen combines earlier this month. He was a standout at both underclassmen national events.

Onwualu hopes to make an early decision, but won’t force one if he isn’t ready.

01-22-2012, 08:14 PM
Picked up a verbal offer this weekend

01-23-2012, 01:41 AM
is he a lock for ND?

02-07-2012, 10:55 AM
James has added verbal offers from scUM and Northwestern. James says he is planning on unofficially visiting scUM, Stanford and ND in the near future.

Purebred Irishman
02-15-2012, 06:14 AM
Onwualu Would Be Good Fit (http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/6519-onwualu-would-be-good-fit)

James Onwualu had an affinity for Notre Dame even before an unofficial visit to South Bend last month.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn., picked up an offer from Notre Dame during that trip and liked it enough to start planning a return visit.

That’s no shock to Cretin-Derham Hall head coach Mike Scanlan.

“We have a nice history with Notre Dame, so it’s not a surprise he’d be interested,” said Scanlan.

In his time at Cretin-Derham, Scanlan has sent more than a few players to South Bend, including wide receiver Michael Floyd and offensive lineman Ryan Harris, and he believes the Minnesota prep school is a good measuring stick for success at Notre Dame.

Looking at it from that perspective, it’d be no surprise to Scanlan to see Onwualu succeed in South Bend, if that’s where he chose to go.

“He’s done it here at our place,” said Scanlan. “I don’t think we’re a difficult transition to Notre Dame. He’s proved he can get along and succeed at our place, I think he’d do the same thing at Notre Dame or wherever he goes.”

Onwualu has also collected offers from Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue and Stanford. In many senses, he appears to be the typical “Notre Dame kid.”

“He is what he appears to be,” said Scanlan. “He’s pretty quiet. He’s a good student. I don’t think he’d give anybody any trouble no matter where he went.”

On the field, Onwualu is anything but quiet.

“His ability to run with the ball when you give it to him,” Scanlan said when asked why Onwualu stands out. “Whether you hand the ball to him or throw it to him, he’s pretty impressive.

“His versatility also. He might be one of our best defensive backs. He could play wide receiver, he could play running back. I don’t there’s many who could get Division-I attention at three different positions, but I think James is one of them.”

Scanlan uses Onwualu similar to the way the coach used Floyd before he went on to a record-setting career at Notre Dame, using Onwualu as both a receiver and a running back.

“The idea is to get him the ball anyway we can,” said Scanlan. “If we aren’t throwing the ball particularly well, we’re going to hand it to him, but we want to get him touches. We probably didn’t do as good of a job as we needed to and probably didn’t do that with Mike either.”

Cretin-Derham finished the 2011 season 11-1, with the only loss coming to Wayzata in the Class 5A semifinals. Onwualu finished the season with 549 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 71 carries. He also caught 27 passes for 428 yards and five more scores.

The comparisons to Floyd are hard to ignore, but also noteworthy considering Floyd and Onwualu's older brother, John, are good friends and Onwualu has clearly looked at Floyd as an example of how to work.

“He saw, as good as Michael was, how hard he had to work to have the success that he did,” said Scanlan. “I think that’s the path James has laid out for himself.”

Scanlan isn’t sure whether receiver or running back would be Onwualu’s best position in college.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I think he could play either. I like him at running back because that way you don’t have to throw him the ball. I think people know their business. A place like Notre Dame, which knows what it’s shopping for, if they think he can play wide receiver, I don’t doubt it.”

Scanlan’s just glad he has another year of handing the ball and throwing it to Onwualu.

02-29-2012, 08:12 AM
Vanderbilt has verbally offered.

03-12-2012, 11:18 AM
James plans to unofficially visit scUM on March 14th (Wednesday), pOSU over this coming weekend and ND on March 23rd ( around ND's junior day).

Named a current top four of ND, scUM, Stanford and Minnesota.

03-14-2012, 07:08 AM
pOSU has verbally offered.

03-14-2012, 02:37 PM
announcing tomorrow. hopefully good news!

03-14-2012, 02:41 PM
announcing tomorrow. hopefully good news!

I would be surprised if it wasn't :bigsmile:

Tomorrow at 11:30...

03-14-2012, 02:47 PM
announcing tomorrow. hopefully good news!

Woah! OK. This would be nice. Hopefully the OSU offer has nothing to do with it.

03-14-2012, 03:47 PM
Not that I hope it matters, but wouldn't it make more sense that he would commit to scUM? He was supposed to have an unofficial visit there today, right? I would love for him to be Irish, but that and the recent pOSU offer make me hesitant to get excited for the announcement.

en dee seattle
03-14-2012, 03:58 PM
Not that I hope it matters, but wouldn't it make more sense that he would commit to scUM? He was supposed to have an unofficial visit there today, right? I would love for him to be Irish, but that and the recent pOSU offer make me hesitant to get excited for the announcement.

he's planning to still visit ND on the 23rd, i think. anyone know?

03-14-2012, 04:28 PM
Not that I hope it matters, but wouldn't it make more sense that he would commit to scUM? He was supposed to have an unofficial visit there today, right? I would love for him to be Irish, but that and the recent pOSU offer make me hesitant to get excited for the announcement.

He ended up not visiting scUM today and he has never visited there. Also according to family pOSU is reportedly not under consideration despite just offering.

03-14-2012, 05:39 PM
Announcement time has been switched to 2:45

03-14-2012, 06:36 PM
Jason Sapp says he's Irish. Looks official. He was on the phone with him less than 30 minutes ago.

03-14-2012, 06:42 PM
@NDatRivals: According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, James Onwualu has committed to Notre Dame and will formally announce his decision Thursday.

This was 40 minutes ago.

03-14-2012, 06:51 PM
Wiltfong and ISD also have reported it. Kelly visited him today. He appreciated the offer on his visit and wanted to return the favor on the coaches visit.

Welcome James!

03-14-2012, 07:03 PM
Welcome to ND !

For some reason I feel someone else played for Cretin-Derham Hall lol

03-14-2012, 07:19 PM
Nice. Welcome. ND's history with kids from his high school is pretty good, nice to keep the pipeline open.

03-14-2012, 07:33 PM
That's flipping awesome. I've had a crap day and this just washed it all away!

03-14-2012, 08:00 PM
Welcome to ND !

For some reason I feel someone else played for Cretin-Derham Hall lol

you're thinking of Ryan Harris

03-14-2012, 08:01 PM
But I saw you got your toes done the other day, Girlz. Welcome, James! Go Irish!

03-14-2012, 08:08 PM
Great choice, James! Welcome to the Irish family!

03-14-2012, 08:48 PM
you're thinking of Ryan Harris

03-14-2012, 08:58 PM
Welcome to ND !

For some reason I feel someone else played for Cretin-Derham Hall lol

you're thinking of Ryan Harris


It was Rashon Powers-Neal

03-14-2012, 09:14 PM
It was Rashon Powers-Neal
Actually now that I think about it, I believe it's Seantrel Henderson

Purebred Irishman
03-15-2012, 04:40 AM
Really nice surprise seeing James commit

Scout.com: Onwualu Gives Irish No. 3 in 2013 Class (http://notredame.scout.com/2/1167743.html)

Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) receiver James Onwualu was set to make his announcement on Thursday, but he decided to go public with it today. He is the third member of Notre Dame's 2013 class. Check out what the Irish are getting with his junior highlights.

James Onwualu was going to announce his college decision Thursday during a ceremony at this school.
Instead, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound receiver from Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) decided to public with his decision to commit to Notre Dame tonight.

He chose the Irish over other finalists Stanford, Minnesota and Michigan.

"Each time I visited Notre Dame, the pull became stronger,'' Onwualu told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. "When I visited other schools, I kept comparing them to Notre Dame."

Onwuau made 25 catches for 356 yards and four touchdowns as a junior. He also rushed 68 times for 474 yards and seven scores.

Purebred Irishman
03-15-2012, 04:48 AM
Onwualu commitment continues Cretin-Derham Hall pipeline | Inside the Irish (http://irish.nbcsports.com/2012/03/14/onwualu-commitment-continues-cretin-derham-hall-pipeline/)

Cretin-Derham Hall has been kind to the Notre Dame football program. And with Michael Floyd turning in his blue and gold for the NFL, Brian Kelly and company turned to the St. Paul school for its next potential offensive weapon. Dual-threat offensive star James Onwualu just gave his commitment to the Irish football program, turning down the chance to visit both Michigan and Ohio State to follow a long line of Cretin-Derham Hall talent to South Bend.

“Players from Cretin-Derham Hall have had a rich tradition of success at Notre Dame,” Onwualu told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I am really excited about playing there in the future.”

That rich tradition started with running back Rashon Powers-Neal and has continued with Floyd. In the middle players like Marcus Freeman, Matt Carufel, and former four-year starter Ryan Harris have gone from the Catholic school powerhouse to Notre Dame, a remarkable pipeline for a smaller school that’s produced more than its fair share of elite athletes, most notably Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who was USA Today’s player of the year in both football and baseball before being chosen No. 1 in the Major League baseball draft.

That Onwualu would choose to follow Floyd, one of his idols and a family friend, to Notre Dame isn’t surprising. That he’d be willing to close-up shop on a recruiting season that’s seen his profile rise quickly might be. But after a school service trip to Costa Rica that allowed Onwualu to unplug from the hoopla of recruiting and football, the choice to come to Notre Dame became abundantly clear.

“I had a bunch of great friends on that trip and just got the chance to hang out – no phone, no media, no football – and just figure out what I truly wanted for myself,” Onwualu told Rivals.com. “That was the time when it kind of clicked. I came back, had a conversation with my brother and my mom and we just figured out that it was something that felt right and would set me up for what I wanted to be doing in the future.”

The future isn’t quite as clear cut for Onwualu as it was for Floyd, who came to Notre Dame a clear-cut wide receiver. While his size and physicality — Onwualu is listed as six-foot-two and 205-pounds — have him looking the part of an outside threat, he’s done the most damage in the backfield, working as a hybrid player in a pro-style Cretin offense that’s incorporated more and more spread principles over the past few seasons.

That versatility, and the changes to the Cretin offense run by coach Mike Scanlan, might have helped make the fit even better for the Irish, with Tony Alford working with both inside wide receivers and running backs, positions where Onwualu will most likely contribute. The advanced offensive system that allowed Floyd to walk in and contribute immediately will likely make the transition to college easier for Onwualu, not to mention his relationship with Floyd, who has offered tips and an occasional workout buddy already.

Onwualu had offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford, and had a final four that also included Minnesota.He joins offensive lineman Steve Elmer and defensive end Jacob Matuska as commitments to the class of 2013.

03-15-2012, 09:19 AM
Actually now that I think about it, I believe it's Seantrel Henderson

Sorry, I meant to say Joe Mauer or Paul Molitor

en dee seattle
03-15-2012, 10:53 AM
Sorry, I meant to say Joe Mauer or Paul Molitor

i wanted to correct you and say that steve walsh and chris weinke (a geezer of an NFL rookie) went to CDH.

Purebred Irishman
03-19-2012, 10:51 AM
Recruiting Week In Review (http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/6696-recruiting-week-in-review)

James Onwualu, WR, 6-1, 205, Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul, MN planned to attend Notre Dame’s March 24th Junior Day and possibly even commit to play football for the Irish then. Before that, though, he had planned unofficial recruiting visits to Ohio State and Michigan. Onwualu changed his plans, though, and trekked to South Bend last week instead. Though his plans disrupted the vacation plans of Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly and assistant coach Tony Alford, they didn’t seem to mind. They met the talented wide receiver on campus and were rewarded with some very good news.

“I was going to go to Michigan and Ohio State this week, but I just had this feeling and I felt as if I would be wasting my money going to these other places when I knew what I wanted,” stated Onwualu. “I just decided to make the trip to ND and get what I wanted done.”

Onwualu discussed his appreciation for the Kelly and Alford’s change of plans.

“I think they really do take care of the people they care about and it really sealed the deal today because they proved it,” he related. “It’s their spring break and I had Coach Alford up at seven o’clock coming to meet us. Coach Kelly switched up his whole traveling plans and coming to see us. Coach Booker coming in. A lot of the coaches came in to show that they really do care about me and my family and me being a part of their family.”

While Onwualu’s commitment didn’t come as a major surprise, it nevertheless delighted the Notre Dame coaching staff.

“They were extremely excited,” Onwualu stated. “They might have known a little bit that it could be coming, but Coach Kelly was extremely excited. Coach Alford, Coach Martin, all of them were extremely excited to have me.”

The star receiver is completely confident with his decision.

“The school obviously has a great tradition and the football community is huge,” explained the Minnesota standout. “Other than football, I feel very comfortable in the community. I feel very comfortable with everything they’ve set up for my academics. It doesn’t feel like I’m on vacation, it feels as if I’m just hanging out at a place I’ve grown up. That’s important to me.”

Onwualu chose Notre Dame over Stanford, Minnesota and Michigan. He says he’s 100% committed and won’t be taking any visits.

“No, I’m done,” he said of any future visits. “I feel really confident with what I’ve decided today and I’m going to stick with it.”

Onwualu still plans to attend Notre Dame’s Junior Day next weekend, but this time he won’t be the one receiving the recruiting pitch, he’ll be the one making it.

“I’m going to be bringing my parents for the first time and I’m going to meet (Steve) Elmer who I got to meet on my last visit,” he related. “I’m going to be spending some time with him and hopefully getting some other guys to commit.”

Onwualu is excited to make his commitment and get the process finished.

“It feels great,” he enthused. “On top of the great feeling of committing to a great university, it’s good to have that weight off your shoulders. All around, I feel very confident about the whole thing.”

03-19-2012, 02:50 PM
Matt Birk

03-19-2012, 02:51 PM
i wanted to correct you and say that steve walsh and chris weinke (a geezer of an NFL rookie) went to CDH.

Matt Birk

Purebred Irishman
03-23-2012, 08:03 AM
Onwualu Ready To Recruit (http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/6731-onwualu-ready-to-recruit)

James Onwualu said he made the change from recruit to recruiter almost the instant he committed to Notre Dame last week. This weekend, the receiver from St. Paul, Minn., will get to put those skills to the test as he returns to campus for the Irish’s Junior Day with the hopes of adding more top prospects to the class.

“I was in their spot like a week ago, which seems crazy,” said Onwualu, who committed to the Irish during an unofficial visit last Wednesday.

Onwualu became close with Notre Dame’s first commitment in the Class of 2013, Steve Elmer, when both were in South Bend for unofficial visits in January. Now that he’s in the fold, Onwualu plans to treat the other recruits similar to how Elmer treated him.

“I’m not going to be the guy saying, ‘You need to come to ND,’” Onwualu said. “That’s what the coaches are going to do. I’m kind of taking it from Elmer. He was that guy like, ‘Hey, I’m here. I’m going to be friends with you. If you have any questions, I’ll honestly answer them.’

“I actually talked to Elmer for a couple hours before I ended up committing, before I even went to Notre Dame. I think being a friend with these kids is more important than recruiting them hard.”

Onwualu arrived in South Bend on Thursday night and will get to take in Friday’s practice before Saturday’s Junior Day events.

In addition to recruiting other prospects, Onwualu will be looking to strengthen his bond with Elmer and start building one with the other current member of the class, Jacob Matuska. Onwualu also wanted to give his parents the chance to experience Notre Dame.

“I’m bringing both of my parents back for both of their first times seeing the campus and meeting the coaches,” he said. “For me personally, I think it’s important because I’m going to be able to hang out Elmer and Matuska. That’s going to be good and I’ll be able to hang out with some guys who will hopefully be committing this weekend. It’ll give some players a chance to see what the kind of people at ND are like.”

The visit will also help Onwualu become more comfortable with his future stomping grounds, but that’s the least of his concerns at this point.

“I’m already really comfortable with my decision,” he said. “I feel great about it. Obviously, I learn a lot more about it every time I go back and meet new people every time I go back, which is exciting, but it's such a long ways away that I’m going to have so many opportunities to soak it in. I already feel like home there, so I’m not too worried about that part of it.”

Onwualu followed updates of the Irish’s opening practice of spring football on Twitter and is excited to see Notre Dame practice for the first time on Friday.

“That’s going to be crazy,” he said. “It makes me miss playing in high school and makes me even more excited to get there.

“It’s kind of sad that I have so long to wait, but it’s going to be worth it.”

04-10-2012, 11:35 AM
Nice article here from ESPN (http://espn.go.com/college-sports/recruiting/football/story/_/id/7792430/secret-james-onwualu-strength). He's never lifted a weight and is trained by the same strength guy who has a relationship with Floyd. Sounds dedicated.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 210 pounds, nearly all of it muscle. He is a game changer at both receiver and running back for Minnesota power St. Paul Cretin-Derham Hall. He was one of Notre Dame's first commitments in the 2013 class.

And yet James Onwualu says there is one secret to his strength that will surprise people.

"I've never lifted a weight in my life and I'm still 215," said Onwualu, perhaps giving himself a few extra pounds. .

The key to his success, Onwualu said, is "training hard as hell" with trainer Ted Johnson seven days a week. While many high schoolers spend the weekends relaxing or at a party, Onwualu said he has given up all of that to devote himself to working out and becoming one of the Midwest's top prospects.

[+] Enlarge
Jared Shanker/ESPN.com
James Onwualu, a Notre Dame commit, mighty not impress on the bench press, but there is no denying his strength.
Onwualu said Johnson, who developed his program more than a decade ago, has taken him under his wing when it comes to working out and each session pushes him to his limits physically and mentally.
At first glance. Onwualu appears lankier than strong, but Johnson says Onwualu is a solid 210 pounds, hovers at 6 percent body fat and is far stronger than many of his more muscular-looking prospects.

"The crazy thing is if you go to YouTube, you can see guys jumping out of the pool all day long," Johnson said. "Just the other day, James jumped out. But they're all adults jumping out of maybe three feet of water. I can send a video of James at 16 years of age exploding out of water 60 times, and just the other day he did it 80 times.

"So now we've moved to four feet, and I've scoured the Internet and there's nobody exploding out of a pool out of four feet of water."

Johnson's program is all movement and technique based. Instead a stack of 45-pound plates, the only weight working against Onwualu is his own frame. The emphasis is improving Onwualu's posterior chain, an area Johnson said is where most athletes suffer injuries at in the collision sports.

At the Under Armour junior combine, Onwualu was one of the worst testers at the bench press, but he ran circles around his competition at the remaining drills.

Surprisingly still, strength is what separates Onwualu from his peers, his quarterback at Cretin-Derham Hall says.

"His strength allows him to break tackles anywhere on the field," quarterback Conor Rhoda said. "He can turn a 10-yard hook into a 60-yard touchdown."

The gripe with normal weight lifting programs, Johnson said, is they are set up to accommodate the lowest common denominator and not the elite athletes. A close friend of former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, Johnson said that was the case with the strength and conditioning program there, and it is the same issue with the programs throughout the country.

"You walk into a facility and see what the philosophy is: They got five million pounds of weights and that's all they do," Johnson said, "and it doesn't necessarily translate into performance. All we need is space."

Onwualu was just 13 when he began working out with Johnson regularly. Onwualu does not take any supplements and is on a strict diet. Johnson requires Onwualu to send him pictures of every meal so it can be analyzed for nutrition, portion size and the time of the day it was eaten.

Johnson does the same with former Cretin-Derhman standout Michael Floyd, who starred at Notre Dame. It has allowed Onwualu to build a strong friendship with Floyd, who often housed Onwualu when he was visiting the South Bend campus.

A running back and receiver at Cretin-Derham, Onwualu said he will most likely fill in at Floyd's old position, the "X" receiver, when he gets to Notre Dame in the fall of 2013. Although not one to be a fiery coaching type, Floyd has been able to pass his knowledge along to Onwualu.

"Mike's not really a guy to be in your face about coaching," Onwualu said. "I've kind of taken the role of sitting back and watching him as a player. He's a great kid and great guy to watch. It's easy to see the things he does and compare it to me. If I ask him he always answers a question."

Onwualu and Floyd's skills aren't especially similar, though. At 6-3 and 224 pounds, Floyd is more of a vertical big-play threat. Onwualu, who has reached 29 mph when sprinting, is more likely to make a big play out of a short-yardage catch.

The goal is for Onwualu to close in on 220 pounds by the time he makes it to Notre Dame. Johnson said Floyd never reached 200 pounds while he worked with him throughout high school. (Johnson is now helping Floyd prepare for the NFL draft, and Floyd invited Johnson to join him for the draft in New York.) Onwualu is much further along at this point than Floyd, who is one of the most prolific receivers to ever attend Notre Dame.

"We want him to impact college football [as a freshman] the same way Mike did," Johnson said. "At every stage of his development -- and I've known Mike since seventh grade -- James is ahead of the curve. He's bigger, faster and 10 times stronger."

Purebred Irishman
04-13-2012, 03:39 AM
Onwualu Puts In Work (http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/6858-onwualu-puts-in-work)

Having already committed to Notre Dame, Minnesota wide receiver James Onwualu doesn’t need any exposure.

Sure, he wouldn’t mind adding an extra star or two to his profiles on recruiting services, but that isn’t why he attended the adidas Invitational Best of the Midwest Showcase in Ann Arbor last weekend.

“I pretty much went down there just to compete against some of the best guys in the Midwest,” he said. “I played good. I showed out.”

The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from St. Paul’s prestigious Cretin-Derham Hall wants to go against the best because he wants to be the best.

“I have a goal of being a main guy my freshman year, coming in early and making a difference,” he said. “I think part of that will be playing kids that are good and playing kids that will really push me to better. In Minnesota, I don’t really get a lot of kids that can bring me the competition to that level.”

In Ann Arbor, Onwualu got a chance to go against some of the nation's best.

“I got to play against Jaylon (Smith),” Onwualu said of the highly-touted Indiana linebacker. “We had fun going against each other when he was playing corner. I got to play against Jourdan Lewis. Obviously Jourdan is one of the best corners in the nation. It was fun going against those two.”

Having the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Smith line up at cornerback gave Onwualu a rare opportunity to face a defensive back who is bigger than him.

“He’s a good size, but that’s something that’s good about my game too,” he said. “I’m pretty physical too, so I enjoy playing against him. You’ll see people like that. (Former Notre Dame cornerback Robert) Blanton is just as big as he is.”

Smith seemed to enjoy competing against Onwualu as well.

“When we were doing the one-on-ones, he was stepping up for me, I was trying to go against him,” said Onwualu. “We were both trying to compete. We just tried to go against each other to make each other better.”

Onwualu is confident and hopeful there will be plenty more battles between the two in the years to come.

“I’ll be playing with Jaylon eventually, hopefully the next couple of years,” he said. “I think he’s going to be coming to ND.”

Onwualu considered Michigan before choosing the Irish, but still enjoyed his time around several of the Wolverine commitments in his class.

“At first, it was kind of weird because Michigan was in the top two and all of those guys followed me and wanted me to commit,” he said. “They’re cool guys, it’s a friendly rivalry and I think it’ll be fun to play against them in a couple years now that we have that friendship.”

Onwualu’s experience in Ann Arbor last weekend served as reinforcement for what he already knew.

“I can actually compete,” he said. “I think that I’m underrated because I’m from Minnesota, but I think going to these things really proves that I can play with whoever. There’s definitely room for improvement and things I can change in my routes, but that comes with time. I think I held my own.”

06-05-2012, 06:01 PM
Irish Sports Daily ‏@ISDUpdate
#NotreDame WR commit James Onwualu (@J_Walls) earns invite to @TheOpening2012 after strong performance at NFTC in Illinois.
6:56 PM - 5 Jun 12

06-07-2012, 07:14 AM
http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/7108-onwualu-gets-open (free)

You might not be able to see it with the naked eye, but James Onwualu has a chip firmly entrenched on his shoulder and it’s driving the 2013 Notre Dame wide receiver commit to continuing going out to compete.

The Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) star brought his chip with him to the Nike Football Training Camp in Champaign, Ill., this past weekend and it provided all of the motivation he needed.

“I think I showed the ability to get a little bit more separation and I continue to show the power in my routes and just being physical,” the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder said.

“I think I showed a little bit more quickness and speed. Obviously, that's something I still have to work on as a bigger receiver, but I definitely showed improvement from the last time I played.”

Onwualu also did his best to see how he stacked up with fellow 2013 wideout Laquon Treadwell, from Crete, Ill. Treadwell may have walked away with MVP honors among receivers, but Onwualu feels like he held his own.

“I tried to go before him or right after him and kind of be right next to him the whole day,” Onwualu said of Treadwell. “I want to compare myself and have others compare me. I think I'm very close to his talent.”

Onwualu did enough to earn an invitation to The Opening, a prestigious event that will match 150 of the nation's top prospects against each other in Oregon next month.

“I'm pretty excited about it,” said Onwualu. “It’s huge for me. I continue to try to prove myself and prove that I am a four-star and I'm a good player. I feel like this definitely proves that. I showed what I had on Sunday. It's a huge accomplishment.”

He had his eyes set on The Opening when he arrived in Champaign.

“The main goals were getting that invite and continuing to prove to people that I'm one of the best receivers,” he said. “I continue to say that I think I am underrated and I love going out and proving to people that I'm one of the best.”

That challenge will continue in Oregon at The Opening.

“Obviously, I've never played with as many great players as this,” he said. “I've played with good players at each camp like Jourdan Lewis (2013 Michigan cornerback commit), that's always a good competition, but here, every rep is going to be the best. I’m excited for that.”

Onwualu chose the Irish over offers from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin among others. He’s been a deputy recruiting coordinator of sorts for Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting class and will be back on campus next week with a host of fellow commits and prospects.

He appears to be well on his way to proving the naysayers wrong, but it’s doubtful that chip will be going anywhere anytime soon.

06-13-2012, 02:01 PM
http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/7138-onwualu-ready-for-big-weekend (free)

As the unofficial deputy recruiting coordinator for Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting class, there was no way James Onwualu was going to miss a chance to get back to South Bend this week.

Several verbal commitments, includin Onwualu, and at least one uncommitted prospect will be getting to South Bend on Thursday.

Cornerback prospect Mackensie Alexander is scheduled to get to South Bend Wednesday while recent five-star linebacker commit Jaylon Smith will arrive on campus Friday.

Tight end commit Mike Heuerman and linebacker prospect Alex Anzalone were the initial organizers of the trip, but it didn’t take long for Onwualu to have a hand in planning things.

Now the weekend will consist include Onwualu, Heuerman, Smith, Anzalone, Alexander, Hunter Bivin, Malik Zaire and Rashad Kinlaw.

“It’s going to be a good time,” the Minnesota wide receiver commit said.

In addition to Anzalone and Alexander, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Cretin-Derham Hall star was originally planning to pitch another visitor.

“We didn't know that Jaylon was going to commit before that,” laughed Onwualu.

Onwualu understands the impact of Smith’s commitment.

“It's going to be huge,” he said. “He's a kid that fits the program perfectly, not only is he an amazing athlete, a five-star athlete, but he's also a great kid. He fits the program perfectly and I can’t for him to get started with us.”

Now the weekend will represent another chance for Onwualu to bond with future teammates, some of whom he’s met and some he hasn’t.

“I think it will be the first time that I'll be able to hang out with Heuerman and Jaylon,” he said. “It will be a good time bringing them into the Mob.”

Onwualu is also looking forward to getting with Zaire, his future quarterback, again.

“Hopefully we'll get out to throw the ball around a little bit,” he said. “That bonding time is important to us and has been important in this class.”

But recruiting Anzalone and Alexander could end up being the most important portion of the weekend. Onwualu spent a good amount of time with Anzalone when they met at the Irish’s Junior Day in March.

Anzalone ended up committing to Ohio State a month after his first visit to South Bend before decommitting in May. Despite his previous decision to choose the Buckeyes, Onwualu is confident in what the Irish have to offer.

“There's not much more to tell him,” Onwualu said of Anzalone. “I think he knows everything about Notre Dame and I think he feels very comfortable with it. Nobody really knows what happened with the Ohio State thing, but obviously he's coming back for a reason, that's all I've got to say.

“Last time I was out there with him, him and his family seemed like they felt really comfortable.”

06-16-2012, 11:21 AM
WR James Onwualu - Quick visit update
Jason Sapp
3 minutes ago via 247Sports Mobile

Notre Dame wide receiver commit James Onwualu let me know that he wasn't able to make it to campus this weekend as planned, but says he'll be back on June 22.


06-21-2012, 12:39 PM
Keith Arnold ‏@KeithArnoldNBC
ND commit James Onwualu broke his jaw during 7-on-7 passing tourney. Injury might keep him out until early-mid September.
1:34 PM - 21 Jun 12

06-21-2012, 10:10 PM

Purebred Irishman
06-22-2012, 03:43 AM

Onwualu did not make his planned visit last weekend, but will be staying in South Bend from Thursday to Sunday. Onwualu will be limited in his workouts after suffering a broken jaw during a 7-on-7 event.

The Tribune learned of the injury shortly before Onwualu was boarding his flight to South Bend on Thursday. Onwualu said in a pair of text messages that he couldn't have any contact in workouts this weekend and hopes to be recovered in time for his first game this fall. Onwualu tweeted that his mouth had to be wired shut.

06-22-2012, 11:37 AM
Wish some politicians could have that done to them.

06-29-2012, 09:20 AM
Onwualu Fights Through


James Onwualu returned to Notre Dame last week, but this time, telling other recruits about the value of Notre Dame was at least a little more difficult.

The Cretin-Derham High School star broke his jaw during 7-on-7 action earlier this month.

“Just being a little too physical with the rival team and I just bumped it the wrong way,” said Onwualu. “Obviously my jaw is wired shut, but I'm still training.

“I'm doing alright. I'm fighting through. It's definitely a struggle because I don't get the same food. There are definitely struggles to it, but I'm not going to let it stop me. I know what I want and I've handled obstacles before and I'm not going to let this stop me.”

The St. Paul, Minn., native still plans on traveling to The Opening in Oregon next week and working out against the nation’s best.

“I'm trying to shoot for a couple more goals before I get to Notre Dame,” he said. “I'm still going to work out and do as much as I can.”

Onwualu arrived in South Bend on Thursday and left on Saturday. He had the chance to work out in front of the Irish coaches, but only on a limited basis.

“I didn't get to do as much as I wanted to, but I worked out a little bit,” he said. “They just wanted me to be careful. I just got to hang out and be around the coaches a lot. That was the main thing; I really got to spend a lot of time with them. Also, just being on campus, it reminded me why I committed there.”

While the bond between the Irish’s 2013 recruiting class is already strong, Onwualu is looking to create an equally strong connection with the Notre Dame coaches.

“They're just as much a part of the team as the other players,” he said. “Unlike a lot of other schools, there is a strong player-coach relationship. They’re fierce on the field, but they also care about you. It's good for both sides. For me, to start understanding how they coach and how they work and for them, learning more about me and how I learn.”

But even with a wired jaw and few 2013 prospects in sight, Onwualu remained a recruiter.

“There were a lot of 2014 kids,” said Onwualu, who was on campus for the Irish’s one-day Future Stars Camp.

“I hung out with Justin Brent a lot. He's a real cool guy and I could definitely see him being a commit next year. He's in love with Notre Dame.”

Onwualu was impressed with the 2014 Indianapolis receiver, who is still looking for his first offer.

“I think he's definitely a good player,” said Onwualu, who also saw Brent at the Nike Football Training Camp in Illinois earlier this month.

“If you would have told me that he was in my grade, I would've easily believed he could have been a kid coming in this year. He's physically in shape and kind of reminds me of myself last year. He's just a big, physical receiver and he's really technically sound. He's a great player and I think he has great potential. Being around him at a couple of different camps showed me that he's a great kid. I could definitely see him coming to Notre Dame in the future. He's a guy I'd love to play with.”

Onwualu also kept a close eye on a couple of underclassman prospects from his home state, 2014 running back Jeff Jones and 2015 linebacker/defensive end Jashon Cornell, who also plays for Cretin-Derham.

“The Minnesota guys kind of took over,” Onwualu said. “Jeff Jones, Coach Alford loves him. I could see him being a commit. Also the young guy from my school, Jashon Cornell, they saw his potential. It was his first time playing linebacker, but he definitely showed out. Coach Diaco was yelling at him in a good way and coaching him up. He's definitely a guy they are high on.”


Purebred Irishman
08-06-2012, 10:42 AM

When James Onwualu visits Notre Dame these days, the 2013 Irish wide receiver commit feels like he’s going home in a sense.

“I know a lot of people say this, but it’s really kind of like a family,” the Minnesota wideout said.

“The coaches don’t need to recruit us anymore. It’s more of them taking us under their wing. They talk to us as if we were already there and were already their players. It’s not really a recruiting visit for me anymore. I’m just going to hang out with them and learn more about football and the school.”

Onwualu had the chance to do just that this past weekend as he joined fellow commits Mike Heuerman and Jaylon Smith in South Bend for the start of Notre Dame’s fall camp.

“I got to hang out with Heuerman for the first time,” said the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Onwualu. “He’s a super cool dude. I’ve been texting him in group chat with Alex (Anzalone) and Devin (Butler), but I never got to meet him in person. That was definitely fun. It’s always good to meet somebody and know that you have a connection with them in person as well.

“It was good to see Jaylon. Of course, I get to see him a lot more because we’re in the Midwest. I think him and I are both very, very different when we’re competing, so it’s always nice to hang out with him when we don’t have our game faces on. We sat down and watched a couple games together from the last year and kind of got to bond more, so that was a good time.”

Will Fuller was also on campus and while the Philadelphia receiver wasn’t a member of Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting class when he was in South Bend, he became a part of it shortly after leaving.

“He’s a super cool kid,” Onwualu said of Fuller. “He was a little quiet at first. He was just trying to figure everything out by himself, but then he started hanging out with me, Mike and Jaylon a little bit more. As the day went on, he got way more comfortable.

“When I found out he was going to commit, he was totally comfortable.”

Onwualu wasn’t surprised Fuller pulled the trigger and echoed some of the comments Fuller gave Irish Sports Daily about his decision to flip from Penn State to Notre Dame.

“Before Penn State, he was 100 percent Notre Dame,” Onwualu said of Fuller. “I think he just couldn’t turn down the opportunity he always wanted.”

Onwualu welcomes Fuller, who could round out the Irish’s recruiting haul at wide receiver along with Corey Robinson.

“I’ve never really been one to worry about who my competition is or anything,” said Onwualu. “He’ll be a great kid to play with and I think he’ll definitely be one of the kids alongside me playing in a year.”

Onwualu arrived in South Bend right after Saturday’s practice, but he got to watch the first practice on film before watching the second session of training camp in person on Sunday.

“I love how they practice,” he said. “I think everybody is really pushing themselves to be the best and to start taking the program to the next level and showing that they deserve to have a schedule like this and that they can handle it. I’m pretty excited to see what happens this year.”

Onwualu plans on returning to South Bend again next month.

“I think I’m going to go to the Michigan game, not for my official, but just to visit,” he said. “I’ll probably bring my mom and hopefully some other people who have been very supportive.”

But now his attention will turn toward his own season as Cretin-Derham Hall begins training camp next Monday.

“I think this year is going to be a lot of fun,” Onwualu said.

Onwualu and his teammates are motivated by the fact that Eden Prairie earned a preseason national ranking. Cretin Derham expects to compete with the Minnesota defending state champs for this year’s crown.

“It makes us want to win state even more. I’m pretty excited about the season.”

09-29-2012, 05:23 PM

09-29-2012, 05:57 PM

that was easy

10-01-2012, 11:17 AM
Woo Hot Mic! Turn your input volume down just a hair or move about 12" away from the mic....Thank you!

11-08-2012, 08:21 AM
http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/8065-onwualu-gets-back-on-campus (free)

James Onwualu returned to Notre Dame this week and pretty soon, the 2013 wide receiver commit from Minnesota will be returning to South Bend for good.

“Trust me, I know. It’s crazy,” said Onwualu, who will arrive at Notre Dame as an early enrollee in about two months.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from Cretin-Derham Hall admitted to having mixed emotions, but is ready to take the next step.

“There are good and bad feelings about it,” he said. “I’m excited to get there and get started, but at the same time, I’m sad about leaving my family and friends and everything.”

Onwualu got back on campus Tuesday to get some academic things out of the way.

“It went pretty good,” he said. “I had a couple of meetings. I had a meeting with administration and with Adam (Sargent). It went pretty good.

“Looking at all of my classes and figuring all of that stuff out and setting up a plan for when I’ll be making my schedule and everything.”

Sargent is Notre Dame’s associate director of Academic Services for Student-Athletes and has been a valuable tool for the Irish’s recruiting efforts.

“After the visit, I feel pretty comfortable with everything that’s going on,” Onwualu said. “All of the coaches told me everything will be alright and all of these different meetings made me feel pretty comfortable academically. There are mixed feelings, but I’m excited.”

Onwualu and the majority of the 2013 recruiting class will be taking official visits for the Irish’s banquet weekend on Dec. 7th. He wanted to get the academic stuff out of the way, so he wouldn’t have to worry about it when he gets back next month.

“I wanted to get all of these meetings done before I took my official, so I can really just hang out and enjoy the weekend instead of getting up in the morning and getting all of these meetings done and everything,” he said.

The athletic wideout had the chance to observe Notre Dame’s Tuesday practice leading up to this weekend's game at Boston College.

“It was intense as always,” he said. “I thought the team was focused and more intense since I last saw practice. Everything seemed to be running pretty smoothly. The coaches still pick up on little things, but that’s what makes the team better every week.”

Onwualu remains active in recruiting and has his sights set on former USC safety commit Max Redfield, especially now that Pennsylvania linebacker Alex Anzalone reaffirmed his commitment. Onwualu says there are no hard feelings between the other commits and Anzalone.

“He’s back in the Mob. Our feelings toward him are the same. I know me, Mike (Heuerman) and Devin (Butler) have all been talking to him. He’s a great player and his attitude is a good addition to the team. He works hard just like all of us and athletically, he’ll be perfect for us to play linebacker.”

11-27-2012, 09:33 AM
Senior year.........


11-28-2012, 07:28 AM
http://www.irishsportsdaily.com/recruiting/notre-dame-football-recruiting/8199-bk-drops-in-on-onwualu (free)

James Onwualu has been committed to Notre Dame since March and the Minnesota wide receiver has never wavered in that decision, but Tuesday gave him even more assurance that he made the right choice as he had the opportunity to host Irish head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin for an in-home visit.

“It was so much fun,” the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from St. Paul, Minn., said. “They just came off like they were good friends, good family. It was like having dinner with family, it wasn’t like a recruiting trip.”

Onwualu is finished with high school and set to enroll at Notre Dame in January, but he still visited Cretin-Derham Hall with his future coaches.

“When I brought them out to the school, they just had fun meeting everybody,” Onwualu said. “They were really cool about meeting everybody. They weren’t like, ‘Oh, let’s just go back here and talk with your coach.’ They were open to hanging out with all my friends and talking to everybody.”

Onwualu was proud to have his future coaches just hanging out with his friends at school.

“Definitely,” he said. “It’s the Brian Kelly, it’s the head coach of the number one team in the nation. Coach Martin is the offensive coordinator of the number one team in the nation. No kid in my position could ask for anything more. There are some people who don’t really understand the significance of that, but obviously I do and a lot of people that I’m close to understand that.

“Then when we came back to my house, it wasn’t awkward at all. We sat down and talked like we’ve known each other forever. It was a lot of fun.”

Both Onwualu and the Notre Dame coaches are pleased with the commitment level of the other side.

“We were talking about the fact that me and a lot of the other commits were committed before their success this season,” said Onwualu. “I think that shows just how much I really believe in them and believe that they’re going to take care of me and make sure I’m at the place I need to be.”

Onwualu was joined by his mother and trainer Ted Johnson, who also worked with former Irish great Michael Floyd.

“My trainer knew them because of Mike obviously,” Onwualu said. “My mom was nervous beforehand. She wanted it to be perfect. She was trying to make it like the top restaurant in the nation. I just told her to make it like she makes food for me and to just make them feel at home. She settled in a lot when she saw how comfortable they were and how it wasn’t just going to be all football talk and business.

“They pretty much just laid back and hung out like they were hanging out at their own house. She felt comfortable after that.”

11-28-2012, 07:39 AM
Senior year.........


looks like this was filmed with a webcam with vaseline on the lens

11-28-2012, 08:00 AM
He reminds me of M Floyd for the fact that he is a good ballplayer but he doesn't have a quick burst.

12-05-2012, 10:59 AM
Jake Brown ‏@Jake_Brown
#NotreDame ATH commit James Onwualu (@J_Walls) picked up a fourth star on @Rivals today. Turned in a big time senior season.
11:48 AM - 5 Dec 12

12-14-2012, 07:46 AM
Watchable Senior film..........


12-14-2012, 10:09 AM
Love the music! So much that I had the urge to do my keyboard...

p.s. this kid looks like a baller.

Purebred Irishman
12-30-2012, 09:09 AM

John Onwualu’s mother is sometimes asked whether he ever gets jealous of the attention his younger brother, James Onwualu, has received as a high-profile recruit.

“My mom always responds, ‘It’s the exact opposite feeling,’” John says.

“That’s totally true. I’ve never been jealous of my brother. I’ve been nothing but proud. Everything that I work for and do is to try and help him out. James and I have always been very close. All growing up, we’ve stuck together. We competed as younger kids in sports against each other. We’ve grown to become very close best friends.”

John is four years older than James, so once he left Cretin-Derham Hall in Saint Paul, Minn., to go to college at the University of Pennsylvania, James was starting the ninth grade.

John played receiver and safety at Cretin-Derham. He was a year behind former Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd and a year ahead of five-star offensive line prospect Seantrel Henderson. Cretin never claimed a state championship during John’s career, but he played in the Metrodome four times and played on a team that won 34 times in 37 chances over three seasons.

The Raiders did capture the state title the year after he left, but John managed to grab Ivy League titles in his first two years at Penn.

“It was a very fulfilling career,” he said. “I played wide receiver and safety and ended up playing safety in college.”

Surrounded by stars on his school squad, John could see the potential of his younger brother. James stood out as a young running back and by the time he was in fifth grade, he was switched from his school’s team to a city team so he could play with seventh and eighth-graders.

“That’s really when we kind of started noticing that he had some pretty serious talent,” remembers John. “Something that’s always stood out for him ever since he was in third or fourth grade was his vision of the field. Even when he was a young kid playing, he was always able to find holes, always able to get to the outside and get to the open field and never look back.

“He’s had a knack for scoring ever since he was young and I think that’s carried through his entire career. He’s always able to find the end zone. When he was in fifth and sixth grade and scoring three or four touchdowns a game against seventh and eighth-graders, I knew there was something to it and he was going to be special.”

James was also a talented basketball player and played on a year-long travel team until he decided to focus on football the summer before he started ninth grade. He began working out with his brother’s trainer, Ted Johnson.

“Michael would come back in the summer and all three of us would work out together,” says John. “I was able to go to Penn and James was training for Cretin.

“James set out a goal fairly early on when he started working out with Ted that he wanted to play big-time ball. He wanted to go all of the way and the first step to that was having a successful high school career.”

That was also the summer when James would impress a lot of people by snagging a high pass from Brady Quinn with one hand during a camp put on by former Notre Dame and Cretin-Derham standout Ryan Harris.

“It shocked everybody, including myself,” says John. “I never really knew he had that in him to catch a difficult ball like that. After seeing that and seeing him grow up and find the end zone, I knew he had something special.”

Once James got his chance as a high-schooler, he didn’t disappoint. In his first varsity game as a sophomore, he put up 220 yards and two touchdowns and John realized his brother had a great chance to accomplish his goal of earning a Division-I scholarship.

“We knew that was possible,” says John. “The next step after high school, is getting to college. We started out early on that. If he’s set a goal to play at that level, I was going to do nothing but help him do that.

“Having gone through the recruiting a bit myself, I felt like I had a good idea of what it would take to be able to market him and get his name out in the best light. I thought it was only appropriate to help him achieve his goals.”

Mostly a role player throughout his own career, John has enjoyed watching his brother become a standout.

“There’s not really a comparison between me and James to be honest,” he acknowledges. “My offensive exposure was mostly inside wide receiver, kind of the flex tight end position or what we call the Y at Cretin.

“James has been the star growing up. My career was much more of a consistent player. On defense, I played strong safety and that was where I got most of my playing time. Seeing him be the star and be successful throughout his seasons, is fulfilling in my life and makes me nothing but happy.

“James has always been the leader on the team, the highest scorer and has always been the leader, which is something I really value living vicariously through his career. It’s awesome.”

Going to school in Philadelphia prevented John from seeing James play live for Cretin-Derham much, but the brothers would stay up until early morning hours on Saturday waiting for the Raider staff to post Friday night’s games on Hudl to watch the film together.

“We would go over the entire game,” says John. “That was something that brought me and James closer together. It’s been very fulfilling.”

After suffering a couple concussions in college, John decided to hang up the cleats and focus on his education at Penn. But as soon as he realized the opportunities James would be afforded at the college level, he did everything he could to help his young brother get as much exposure and see as many different college campuses as he could.

It became clear right away that Notre Dame was a school that would get a serious look.

“I always was a Notre Dame fan, I saw Michael go there,” says John. “When he got the offer, we kind of knew – at least I knew that I really wanted him to go there. We’ve always been Notre Dame fans and we have nothing but love for the University as a whole.

“When James was making his decision, he wanted the academics as well as the community and athletics. Notre Dame has the number one academics and the football community and now they are the number one football team in the country. I couldn’t be any more proud of James. I think he’s walking into the best position possible and couldn’t have put himself in a better situation to start his college career.”

James, who made his commitment to the Irish in March, has a goal of getting on the field early and he’ll enroll next month hoping that will give him a better chance to do just that. Irish head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin are ready to give him the opportunity to do so.

“They all think he has a lot of potential to play early on,” says John. “With the current receiver situation and how they like to rotate through receivers, I’m excited to see James play early on and I think that him going early to school is going to help.

“I think with his physical ability and understanding of the game and putting himself in the right situation – being the right kinda guy as Brian Kelly says – he’s going to fit in perfectly with the program. I’m excited to see his success level start early.”

After being a high-value recruit, Onwualu has proved to be a valued recruiter, helping to strengthen the bonds between the commits and getting the word out to uncommitted prospects about the class the Irish are building.

“Some people are afraid of having other players commit around them who might be as good or potentially even better,” says John. “The way that James looks at is he wants as many players who are good to commit. The better the team is, the better you can be and the better players that you surround yourself with are only going to push you to be the best.”

John is extremely proud to see what his brother has accomplished.

“I haven’t really experienced anything else like this in my life in terms of seeing somebody start from the beginning, through hard work, be very successful and work his way up. I couldn’t be anything but happy for him.”

01-19-2013, 07:58 PM
James Onwualu ‏@J_Walls
Gonna be rockin the big 17. Ballin like my man Mike Wallace haha ��
8:52 PM - 19 Jan 13

02-06-2013, 10:43 AM

Purebred Irishman
07-22-2013, 05:33 PM

Hailing from the same high school as Michael Floyd, Ryan Harris and Rashon Powers-Neal, Cretin-Derham Hall looks to have been kind to the Irish football program again with the addition of wide receiver James Onwualu.

The early enrollee freshman jump-started his college career by joining the team for spring drills and immediately made his mark as a strong and powerful receiver that has the ability to play a hybrid role as a ball carrier as well.

Any comparisons to Floyd would be unfair and premature, but there’s a similar work ethic in Onwualu, who also brought his enthusiasm to the recruiting trail, barnstorming across the country to camps and combines, always working to help build the “Irish Mob.”

Let’s take a closer look at Onwualu.


The more talent evaluators got to see Onwualu, the more they liked him. As a guy that’s a bit of a tweener on the field, Onwualu doesn’t necessarily have the best top-end speed or measureables. But after working the camp circuit and playing a very impressive senior season, Onwualu worked his way up recruiting lists, ending up a highly respected four-star recruit by Rivals and a fringe top 250 player.

With an offer list that’s equally impressive, Onwualu committed to Notre Dame in March and turned down offers from a diverse list that includes Arizona, Cal, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Stanford, and UCLA.


There’s room on the field for Onwualu immediately, with only TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels proven commodities. After fifteen practices, the coaching staff raved about the freshman’s physicality, and even though Onwualu had never officially lifted weights before heading to South Bend, his work with a performance strength coach had him explosive and ready for the transition to college football.

Where Onwualu slots into the Irish offense should be interesting. He’s a bit of a Swiss Army knife, and could likely grow into a 230-pound guy after a few years in Paul Longo’s strength program. He could find himself as an outside receiver, but was often times at his best as a running back in high school. (Speaking to his high school coach, he thought Onwualu could be a great safety or hybrid OLB as well.)

With the Irish offense still looking to add playmakers in the passing game, Onwualu will likely see the field as a freshman. How big of an impact he makes? That’s the question.


The Irish know they got themselves a good leader and football player in Onwualu. Whether that translates to a guy that’s a special teams ace, explosive offensive weapon, or even a defensive player remains to be seen. How big Onwualu grows will play a part in where he ends up playing.

With the slot receiver position continuing to be redefined by the Irish’s personnel and schematic tweaks, using Onwualu as a jumbo sized Z receiver is an intriguing option and probably part of the reason Kelly and his offensive staff visited with Bill Belichick and the Patriots this offseason.

Developing in a elite high school program that provides college-ready players will help Onwualu early in his career. (So will the depth chart.) But how he evolves as a player will likely determine where he makes his mark on this roster.

Purebred Irishman
11-09-2013, 08:01 AM

11-09-2013, 09:05 PM
Pretty nce catch to start the game

02-28-2014, 07:34 PM
Moved to safety.

03-01-2014, 09:29 AM

03-01-2014, 09:29 AM
This shocks me!

Domer Dog
03-01-2014, 10:29 AM
Why? He's aggresive, strong, likes contact, fast and has good safety size. If he likes it and takes to it, he could be a really good S.

03-01-2014, 01:02 PM
Well I just read a story about it... after reading the story it does make sense to me. I thought he had more production than what he did last year at WR. Plus I also read where Farley is moving to safety so that opens up another spot for James. I think he could be a good fit.

03-01-2014, 01:26 PM
Well I just read a story about it... after reading the story it does make sense to me. I thought he had more production than what he did last year at WR. Plus I also read where Farley is moving to safety so that opens up another spot for James. I think he could be a good fit.

Moving from safety to Corner, which I really like for Farley and the team

03-01-2014, 02:18 PM
That's correct... still had safety in my head, thanks for clarifying.

03-01-2014, 03:30 PM
Why? He's aggresive, strong, likes contact, fast and has good safety size. If he likes it and takes to it, he could be a really good S.
He also understands offenses, so the transition should not be too difficult.

Given that's he's 6'1" and 215 (at least) he will have good size as well

03-01-2014, 07:30 PM
Also more room w Turner moving to LBs

Purebred Irishman
04-12-2014, 05:04 AM

Purebred Irishman
09-04-2014, 02:36 PM

10-06-2014, 11:39 AM


12-06-2015, 03:48 PM
Irish Illustrated ‏@PeteSampson_ (https://twitter.com/PeteSampson_) 27m27 minutes ago (https://twitter.com/PeteSampson_/status/673613636573663232)
James Onwualu will play in the Fiesta Bowl. “James will be back,” Kelly said.
4:23 PM - 6 Dec 2015