Notre Dame wide receiver Jay Brunelle enters transfer portal before sophomore season

Tyler James
ND Insider
Wide receiver Jay Brunelle earned a scholarship offer to Notre Dame following his performance at the Irish Invasion camp on June 9, 2019.

Jay Brunelle’s college career didn’t have the ideal start. 

His freshman year at Notre Dame included one shoulder surgery and zero games played during a season drastically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the sophomore wide receiver has opted to look for a fresh start elsewhere by entering the NCAA’s transfer portal. 

A source close to Brunelle confirmed his decision with ND Insider. Irish Sports Daily first reported the news Tuesday morning. 

The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Brunelle enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2020. Before the month ended, Brunelle needed surgery to repair a separated AC joint in his right shoulder. The injury occurred late in his senior season at Shrewsbury (Mass.) Saint John’s, but the decision to have surgery was delayed until he was on Notre Dame’s campus. 

Brunelle likely would have missed most of Notre Dame’s spring football practices under normal circumstances, but the spring practice schedule was wiped out after just one practice due to COVID-19 precautions. Brunelle was then left to complete his recovery off campus. 

The Irish weren’t necessarily counting on Brunelle to make an instant impact as a freshman. He came to Notre Dame as a three-star recruit, slated by 247Sports as the No. 105 wide receiver in the 2020 class and excluded from the top 100 wide receivers ranked by Rivals. 

Brunelle might not have cracked the wide receiver rotation at Notre Dame this fall either. Notre Dame will enter the season likely to rely on graduate senior Avery Davis and seniors Kevin Austin Jr., Braden Lenzy, Lawrence Keys III and Joe Wilkin Jr. as its top contributors. But a significant gap in the scholarship chart at the position has developed behind them. 

Notre Dame has no scholarship receivers left from the 2019 recruiting class. Cam Hart switched positions to cornerback, where he has a chance to start this season, and Kendall Abdur-Rahman, who was also working as a running back, opted to transfer to Western Kentucky earlier this year. 

Sophomore Xavier Watts is the only wide receiver left in a three-man recruiting class from 2020 that also included Brunelle and Jordan Johnson, who transferred to Central Florida earlier this year. 

The freshman class should be able to provide help in the long run at the very least with three wide receivers rated as four-star recruits by Rivals: Lorenzo Styles Jr., Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas. Styles, who Rivals ranked as the No. 6 wide receiver in the 2021 class, and Colzie, ranked No. 19, may be able to contribute as freshmen. 

But wide receivers coach Del Alexander will need to add more talent in the upcoming recruiting classes. Amorion Walker, a three-star recruit in the 2022 class, is the only wide receiver verbally committed to Notre Dame. Notre Dame is expected to host a trio of 2022 wide receiver targets on visits this month: Tobias Merriweather, Nicholas Anderson and C.J. Williams.

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.