Three-star WR Amorion Walker ditches Notre Dame commitment to sign with Michigan
Notre Dame's talented 2022 recruiting class took another blow Wednesday morning.
As the signatures from nearly all of Notre Dame's verbally committed players rolled in at the start of the early signing period, long-time wide receiver pledge Amorion Walker flipped his commitment to Michigan.
The strength of Walker's commitment had been in question for months. The 6-foot-3, 181-pound senior from Ponchatoula (La.) High showed interest in Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Kansas State at various times since giving Notre Dame his commitment in March.
When Notre Dame hosted many of its commits on campus this past weekend, Walker couldn't make the trip because his team was playing in the Class 5A state championship in Louisiana. Ponchatoula lost to Zachary, 28-20, on Saturday, but the three-star recruit caught eight passes for 143 yards including a 51-yard touchdown.
Rivals ranks Walker as the No. 40 athlete without a designated position in the 2022 class. 247Sports slates him No. 52 in the athlete role.
The Irish lost two of their three wide receiver commitments this week in Walker and four-star recruit C.J. Williams, who backed off his pledge Monday night. USC is expected to land Williams after a late push following the hiring of head coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma. The top-100 recruit will reportedly make his decision public at the All-American Bowl on Jan. 8.
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Four-star wide receiver Tobias Merriweather, the last recruit to meet with former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly in person before news broke of him leaving for LSU, followed through with his commitment and signed with the Irish on Wednesday.
247Sports slates Merriweather, a Camas (Wash.) Union product, as the No. 11 wide receiver and No. 79 overall in the 2022 class. Rivals ranks him No. 25 at the position and No. 167 overall.
“Size and speed," Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees said of what he liked about Merriweather. "Here’s a kid that’s looking to run sub-10.6 (in the 100-meter dash). You walk up on him and he’s probably close to 6-5. High character.
"You watch his film, he’s not just a one-trick pony, which sometimes long guys are. You see him return kicks, change of direction. You see him get in and out of breaks for a long guy.
"He’s somebody that we’re extremely excited about and have extremely high hopes for moving forward. Given he’s length, given his maturity, given his ability to run, he’s a guy that you can put outside and expect to slowly make an impact here early in his career.”
Though Merriweather is talented, signing only one wide receiver in the 2022 class is a bad break for a roster that lacks any scholarship receivers in the current sophomore and junior classes. The departure of Kelly and uncertainty of whether wide receivers coach Del Alexander will remain on new head coach Marcus Freeman's staff likely didn't help the recruiting efforts at the position.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will need to decide if the Irish have interest in any unsigned wide receiver recruits in the 2022 class or even look to the transfer portal to aide Notre Dame's depth chart next season. Convincing graduate senior Avery Davis and seniors Kevin Austin Jr., Braden Lenzy and Joe Wilkins Jr. to return would go a long way.
Freeman said discussions with those players are ongoing.
"And those are top priority for us," Freeman said, "to try to recruit those guys to come back to Notre Dame.”
Otherwise the Irish will be left to rely heavily on the current freshman class of Lorenzo Styles, Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas.
Styles (16 catches for 208 yards) and Colzie (4 catches for 67 yards) gained valuable experience this season. Thomas did not record a catch in his limited action in two games.
“If we need to go and look at the transfer portal, we will," Freeman said. "If we need to start recruiting more high school kids for the following '23 class, we will. And so, those are still something that's an ongoing process in terms of our current roster, in terms of guys leaving, and then, 'Hey, is it a transfer portal situation or is it a high school recruit situation?’”
By 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, Notre Dame received the signatures of the remaining 21 verbal commitments in the 2022 class. The Irish were unable to convince four-star defensive back Devin Moore to rejoin the class. He signed with Florida after dropping out of Notre Dame's class when Kelly left for LSU.
Defensive lineman Anthony Lucas, who 247Sports rates as a five-star recruit, announced he was signing with Texas A&M on Wednesday afternoon. An Irish victory for Lucas would have been considered a major upset.
Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.