Add Rico Flores Jr. to the growing list of Notre Dame players who will play for another team in 2024. Flores announced this past week that he is transferring to UCLA to become a Bruin after spending the 2023 season with the Fighting Irish. Flores announced he was entering the transfer portal in early December following the firing of Irish receivers coach Chansi Stuckey. He was rated a 4-star recruit out of Folsom High School in Folsom, California. Flores was ranked as the No. 31 prospect in the 2023 class and the No. 17 prospect from the state of California.
Rico Flores Bids Farewell to the Irish
A Sacramento native, Flores had a solid 2023 season for the Irish as a true freshman. In 12 games, Flores caught 27 passes for 392 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State. With the wide receiver position hit hard with injuries this year, Flores became a key target for quarterback Sam Hartman late in the season. Flores is joining a Bruins team that is also seeing an exodus of talent at key positions. Quarterback Dante Moore, running back Keegan Jones, and wide receiver Kam Brown are departing UCLA through the transfer portal.
Flores shared his parting thoughts on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I want to take this time to thank the University of Notre Dame. Thank you to my family, Coach Stuckey, Coach Freeman, the staff, support staff, media staff, the community, and everyone who helped me along this journey. Thank you for taking a chance on a kid from Sacramento, California, who had a dream to make it out.”
Notre Dame has lost its share of players to the transfer portal in recent weeks, as well as players opting out of the Sun Bowl to prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft. But the Irish have added a pair of new wide receivers as well that should bolster the unit next season. Notre Dame has received commitments from former FIU wide receiver Kris Mitchell and former Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins.
OC Gerad Parker Leaving Notre Dame for Troy
On Monday, Dec. 18, Irish offensive coordinator Gerad Parker accepted the head-coaching job at Troy. Parker spent the last two seasons on the Notre Dame coaching staff. First, he was the tight ends coach in 2022 and the offensive coordinator in 2023. It will be Parker’s first head coaching position. Parker took over the Notre Dame offense this past season after Tommy Rees stepped into the same role at Alabama.
Irish head coach Marcus Freeman shared on Twitter, “Congratulations to Gerad as he takes on this great opportunity at Troy. I have had the chance to work closely with Gerad for a number of years and what stands out to me the most are his leadership skills and how tirelessly he works to get the most out of his players.”
In the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29 against No. 19 Oregon State, the Irish will turn to quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli to take charge of the offense. For the second consecutive season, Freeman will need to fill out his coaching staff with a new offensive coordinator, his third in three years. Parker’s exit comes on the heels of Duke quarterback Riley Leonard committing to Notre Dame.
Sun Bowl Captains Named
With three of Notre Dame’s four captains this season opting out of the Sun Bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft, the Irish have named new captains. Hartman, left tackle Joe Alt, and cornerback Cam Hart are bypassing the Sun Bowl, leaving linebacker JD Bertrand as the only remaining captain heading into the Dec. 29 matchup with Oregon State. Bertrand will be joined by defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste, safety DJ Brown, and long snapper Michael Vinson.