Notre Dame freshman Braylon James' talents expand beyond the football field
SOUTH BEND — Why would a Texas high school football star come to Notre Dame and its cold Northern Indiana winters? For freshman wide receiver Braylon James, it feels like the right place to continue pursuit of his NFL dream.
But James, a four-star recruit from Round Rock, Texas, has goals off the football field, too. His also has a passion for music and writes and produces his own rap songs under the name "Brayu".
"(Music) is something that has always been a part of my life," James said last week at The Irish Athletics Center while talking to reporters.
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Rated the No. 136 player in the 2023 recruiting class by 247sports, James said he's been making music since he was 6. It started from watching his uncle, who lived with him for a couple of years, making beats.
"Seeing him do that just got me fired (up)," James said. "I was in there trying to mimic what he was doing. I learned the ropes and it just progressed from there."
James, an early freshman enrollee for the Irish, started creating his own beats, learning how to use a studio software called "FruityLoops." He then began recording himself singing, something he had baseline experience with from attending church. But getting behind the microphone was a new experience — one he fell in love with.
Currently James has three songs, including a recent release titled "W" on Apple Music, and two on Spotify. He also has a SoundCloud account with a handful songs, as well as around 1,000 unreleased songs he's worked on over the years.
He joins a Notre Dame roster peppered with artistic talent. Freshman defensive linemen Devan Houston was a competitive dancer while his senior line mate Rylie Mills is a guitarist.
James said it takes about an hour for him to finish a song, which includes writing his own lyrics that could range from whatever is on his mind, to real-life experiences.
"Hopefully I can start my own label," James said. "That is a dream goal of mine."
So is excelling on the football field, which is the main reason why he enrolled in January to begin his Notre Dame career.
Joining James on campus a few months ago were two other 2023 class signees in four-star wideouts Rico Flores (Folsom, California) and Jaden Greathouse (Austin, Texas). As a trio, Notre Dame signed one of the more heralded wideout classes during this past recruiting cycle, after signing just one (Tobias Merriweather) in 2022.
"We all get to go through this process together," James said of arriving on campus early. "That's been the enjoyable part. …We are teaching each other plays and it is a great experience."
As a senior last fall at Stony Point High School, James caught 38 passes for 727 yards and five touchdowns while being named first team All-District 25 in class 6A.
Notre Dame also added three-star wideout Kaleb (KK) Smith, who has yet to arrive, in its 2023 class, as well as Virginia Tech transfer wideout Kaleb Smith to fill out a position group that lost just 309 receiving yards and three touchdowns from last season in Braden Lenzy's departure.
Knowing that, James has been preparing during winter workouts as if there is an opportunity to get on the field this spring, summer and fall, working at the "X" position behind Smith and Deion Colzie.
He's also worked on his 6-foot-2 frame, gaining 15 pounds since arriving on campus at 180, and has been spending countless hours learning the playbook from wide receiver coach Chansi Stuckey, who spurned a potential NFL opening to stay in South Bend.
"(Stuckey) has always been a role model since the start of recruiting process," James said. "He's somebody I can trust and rely on in terms of knowing the game of football."
Potentially sooner than later, the Irish will have that same trust in James to make plays as a young wideout. In the short time he's been in the program, James has certainly made his presence known, both on and off the field.
"They are definitely on the higher end of songs played in the locker room before and after workouts," Kaleb Smith said of James' music. "He has a great voice."