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Williams and Walker could be heading to UMass

May 31, 2012, 3:54 PM EDT

Utah v Notre Dame Getty Images

Hafis Williams and Deion Walker look like they’ll be extending their college football careers, doing so for their former offensive coordinator Charley Molnar at UMass.

According to Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Williams and Walker will be joined by former Michigan running back Michael Cox, all joining the Minutemen for a final season of immediate eligibility, thanks to the same transfer rule that allowed Dayne Crist, Anthony McDonald, and Mike Ragone to play for Kansas.

While Walker’s paperwork isn’t completed, this closes the book on two members of the vaunted 2008 Irish recruiting class. Williams contributed sparingly throughout his career, playing behind veterans like Ian Williams before being passed in the depth chart by Louis Nix. Williams played in five games during his senior season at Notre Dame, chipping in eight total tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.

Walker was a highly touted recruit out of Christchurch, Virginia, choosing the Irish over offers from USC, Penn State, Florida State, and Clemson. Gifted with good size, the 6-foot-3, 206-pound receiver never cracked the receiver rotation, catching only one pass during his career and seeing the field in only two games his senior season. Given an opportunity to seize a job during his final spring of practice with Michael Floyd suspended from the team, Walker looked capable during the Blue-Gold game, but only saw minutes against Purdue and Air Force in mop-up time.

Molnar’s Minutemen will be making the leap to D-I football this season. NCAA rules don’t allow the school to comment until all players are enrolled in summer school, set to begin next week.

  1. bernhtp - May 31, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    While I understand why Crist would take a fifth year at Kansas given that he has some shot at the NFL if he finally shows his five-star metal, I understand Williams and Walker less.

    They’re going to a first-time D-I team. Did they turn down an opportunity to play at KU instead? I understand they love the game and want another opportunity to play, but at some point you move on with your life.

    With that said, I wish them luck.

    • audomer - Jun 1, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      Bern, Did you ever play football at any level? If you did, then you should have answered you’re own question.

      • bernhtp - Jun 1, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        I played another sport at ND.

        Does it really answer the first question of whether they had the opportunity to join their comrades at KU and turned it down for UMass? I’m still interested in that one.

        Again, I understand their passion for the game and the intense desire to keep playing – that’s been the focus of their lives through now – but there just seems something a bit off about going to UMass for a fifth year. Maybe they’re being given a path to becoming GAs by Molnar.

        By my count, there will now be five ND graduates playing for other football programs this fall. Does any other school have a similar distinction?

      • tedlinko - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        What exactly is your point? What is so hard to understand about guys who have played D1 football and still have eligibility remaining, wanting to play another year? The only mystery to me is why this is a mystery to you.

        As to the question of whether they could have played at KU and turned it down -huh? Where did that question come from? Just because Weis brought a couple of former recruits in, does that mean he’s supposed to take them all?

        And as to the comment about ND grads playing for other programs, again, what’s your point?

      • bernhtp - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        telinko: You’re making a bigger deal out of this than intended.

        As I’ve stated at least twice, I completely get loving the game and wanting to play more, but given that fifth year transfers are relatively uncommon, there is little mystery about being curious as to why in this context, especially since ND has a bumper crop this year.

        The interview with Walker (I posted it below) indicates some disappointment with his ND career and a desire for some redemption, though he does not regret going to ND given the education and great teammates.

        Is it really a mystery why I might be curious whether there was an opportunity to follow other teammates to KU, but instead chose UMass? We seem to be cross-mystified.

        re: “And as to the comment about ND grads playing for other programs, again, what’s your point?”

        There is no point. There is merely the simple expression of curiosity about a new phenomenon for Notre Dame during an otherwise dead news period for college football.

      • bernhtp - Jun 1, 2012 at 10:00 PM

        I was wrong. Apparently there are six:

        QB Dayne Crist, Kansas
        LB Anthony McDonald, Kansas
        DT Brandon Newman, Ball State
        TE Mike Ragone, Kansas
        WR Deion Walker, UMass
        DT Hafis Williams, UMass

    • nudeman - Jun 1, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      You can’t criticize them for playing another year, whether it’s UMass, KU or with the Akron Zips. Most likely none are NFL prospects and so it’s their very last chance to play football.
      It’s a year out of a 22 year old’s life. Plenty of time to get on with things in the business world.

      Also, UMass is an excellent school and I doubt they’ll be allowed to take 16 units of Gym

      As for why UMass and not a more esteemed football program?
      Simple: Better shot at more playing time.

      • bernhtp - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        It certainly wasn’t a criticism, but more a question, and I guess from a point of personal bias.

        Back to the other questions: do you think they were not offered the same opportunity by Charlie at KU? Are there any other schools with five grads playing elsewhere? Is there a GA offer or other inducement likely embedded in their recruitment? Enquiring minds want to know.

        Again, I wish them luck and good health. I hope this final year of college football brings them the joy and fulfillment they seek, albeit on a much smaller stage.

      • brazilianirish - Jun 3, 2012 at 5:21 AM

        “Maybe they’re being given a path to becoming Graduate Assistants by Molnar”. That´s a good point. We´ll see a year from now… I know nothing about his staff at UMass… He´ll probably try to emulate the Cincinnati program more than Notre Dame (a matter of proportion). Two experienced guys on the field just help. That´s Molnar´s perspective. From Williams and Walker´s perspective, I just see open oportunities, including to be around the Boston markets, why not ?? And finally and more important to me: another year of elegibility, the last one, is always an unique oportunity to live and play… I wish them nothing but the best.

  2. seanb20124 - May 31, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    Best of luck to all of them.

  3. bernhtp - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Good interview with Walker:

  4. cvilleirish - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Unrelated, but Rest In Peace Big O (Orlando Woolridge)…dead at 52.

  5. slobie4 - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    What leads you to believe they had an opportunity at Kansas? I can almost guarantee you they didnt. The fact of the matter is that there are 85 scholarship players on each team and many different factors go into offering a player a scholarship. There has to be need for a player at there position, are they worth a scholly you could of offered someone else? Its not like a big party and schollys are offered to anyone who wants to come. Also they were complete bottom dwellers on NDs roster (especially walker). Not exactly what your looking for when your spending a scholly trying to turn a program around. Weis also knows these guys really well. if he felt they would be a service to the team he would of brought them in. also, my experience with these two young men is that they are very academically driven. Im sure that played a huge role into there decisions. Myself played and coached college football have some background. thats how college sports work, its a business, not something you do to just have a good time when your there. You being a x college athlete should know that.

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