St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin Derham Hall athlete James Onwualu attends the same high school that produced projected first round NFL draft pick Michael Floyd. Now, Onwualu will follow in Floyd's footsteps at Notre Dame.
On Wednesday, Onwualu drove down to South Bend. He was there to tell Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly he was ready to commit to Notre Dame.
"I got to sit down with them, spend some time with them and I committed with Coach Kelly," Onwualu said. "He was super excited and I felt as if I should commit in front of him just because he took the time.
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"I told him the day before that I would be going and visiting. It was their spring break and Coach [Tony] Alford woke up at 7 am to visit me and Coach Kelly changed plans to visit with me. That meant a lot."
Onwualu's recruitment started to pick up pace on Monday when he announced a top four of Stanford, Michigan, Notre Dame and Minnesota. He said then that a decision would come by the end of the month, but Onwualu realized he was ready to announce his decision before the end of that week.
"I got a chance to go on a service trip to Costa Rica the past 10 days," Onwualu said. "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. 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 6-2, 205-pound Onwualu was a standout running back and wide receiver last fall for Cretin Derham Hall and he also possesses the tools to play on defense. At Notre Dame, though, Onwualu expects to be called on to catch passes.
"As of now it is receiver and I think that is going to stand," Onwualu said. "As a lot of people know, the receiver spot at Notre Dame is really flexible depending on how smart you are and what your capabilities are. I project myself and they project me moving around a lot depending on teams and depending on plays."
Being a Cretin Derham Hall alum playing wide receiver at Notre Dame is no doubt going to elicit comparisons to Floyd. Onwualu's older brother played with Floyd and the family is close to the record-setting Irish receiver and his game well.
"The [comparison] is going to come up a bunch, but he is a different player than I am," Onwualu said. "What he has achieved and him being a close friend of mine definitely pushes me to be better, but we're going to have different careers and the coaches understand that."
Notre Dame fans will be plenty pleased if five years from now Onwualu's on-field production approaches that of Floyd's, and with Wednesday's commitment the class of 2013 Cretin Derham Hall star begins that journey.