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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Flores Jr. leads latest exodus of Irish players to transfer portal

Wide receiver Rico Flores Jr (17) runs the ball down the field with tight end Holden Staes (13) during the game between Notre Dame and Clemson at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The week after the end of the college football season used to be a quiet time for Notre Dame. That is no longer the case. With four more players departing in the last 24 hours, Notre Dame has lost nine players to the portal this year.

Freshman wide receiver Rico Flores Jr.'s departure is arguably the greatest combination of shock and loss of production. Of the three four-star receivers the Irish brought in last year, only Jaden Greathouse remains after Braylon James hit the portal yesterday. James didn't factor into Notre Dame's offensive production at all in 2023.

Flores, on the other hand, emerged as a key piece. Only junior tight end Mitchell Evans had more receptions than Flores' 27. Only Evans and senior wide receiver Chris Tyree (who also entered the portal on Monday) outpaced his 392 receiving yards. He also made several key plays, recording seven receptions for 20+ yards and critical catches for a touchdown against Ohio State and a two-point conversion against Duke, in the fourth quarter of each game. Flores' departure also follows the dismissal of wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey, whom Notre Dame parted ways with on Tuesday.

Sophomore Holden Staes had emerged as Notre Dame's top tight-end after Evans' season-ending torn ACL on Oct. 28. Staes wasn't a huge factor in Notre Dame's attack for most of his time in South Bend, exceeding two receptions or 20 yards in a game just once. However, he showcased his potential in a four-catch, 116-yard performance at NC State that featured a pair of touchdowns.

Sophomore Eli Raridon figures to be Notre Dame's top tight-end for its bowl game. The Irish currently have one tight end, three-star recruit Jack Larsen, in their 2024 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.

The Irish also lost senior safety Ramon Henderson to the portal on Thursday. Henderson played a rotational role in Notre Dame's secondary, missing just one game over the last three seasons. Henderson recorded 14 tackles, including a career-high 8 solo, this season. He also forced a fumble and recorded an interception.

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