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OLB Jhonny Williams commits to Notre Dame

Nov 27, 2013, 12:19 PM EDT

South Bend Tribune South Bend Tribune

It took one visit to convince outside linebacker Jhonny Williams that Notre Dame was the place for him. Even amidst the wind and snow of last weekend, Williams knew the best option for him was the school just 30 minutes away from his home in Berrian Springs, Michigan. He made that decision official Wednesday morning, joining the 2014 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-6, 237-pound outside linebacker’s commitment to Notre Dame wraps up a whirlwind recruitment, as Williams is the ultimate late bloomer on the scene. Williams entered his senior season thinking he was going to play football at Toledo. That all changed when Missouri offered Williams his first BCS offer. That changed again when Notre Dame offered two weeks ago, just a day before Michigan called.

Williams’ breakout senior season at Berrian Springs brings the Irish a three-sport athlete that piled up impressive stats (69 tackles, 15 TFLs, 12.5 sacks) to go along with a unique athletic skill-set. When talking with the South Bend Tribune’s Tyler James, Berrian Springs head coach Bill Bergan described a guy that could wreak havoc off the edge of Notre Dame’s defense.

With coaching staffs evaluating senior film in November in search of more targets, Williams jumped off the screen.

“The numbers he had strength-wise, speed-wise, basically the combine numbers, are pretty impressive,” Bergan said. “Once you saw what he did on film, it was like ‘Oh boy, this is going to get crazy.’”

The craziness began in earnest last week when Notre Dame offered on Wednesday and Michigan followed suit on Thursday. The two winningest programs in college football wanted a shot at the lengthy defensive end that claims a 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash.

“I’ll remember those days for a long time, especially the Notre Dame offer,” Williams said this week.

With the Irish saying goodbye to Prince Shembo and Ishaq Williams in his senior season next year, finding another Cat linebacker was a necessity in this recruiting cycle. That Notre Dame’s gain came at the expense of Missouri, putting together an elite season in the SEC, goes to show you that the Irish’s star hasn’t necessarily fallen.

Williams is the 20th recruit in the Irish class, and joins Grant Blankenship, Jonathan Bonner, Matt Dickerson and Andrew Trumbetti as edge players in this defense. Richard Yeargin could also be a Cat linebacker.

Ultimately, geography played in the Irish’s favor, with Williams wanting to stay close to home ($), where he’s helped his mother take care of his younger brother.

“I really loved the team atmosphere and the family environment,” Williams told Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated. “I have the utmost respect for Missouri and appreciate everything they’ve done. I didn’t wish that it worked out this way, but it’s just not the best decision for me to leave my family.”




  1. North of Denver - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    You have to read the Rivals article. Definitely an RKG. And after watching that highlight tape am surprised he only had 3 stars. I am only concerned that with the spelling of his first name, we are going to run into the same problems we have with Ghoulston.

    • rdw71 - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Only thing to keep in mind on the highlight film is that Berrien Springs is a town of 5000 people, so the competition he’s been up against has not been elite. Like the kids from NYC, he will need a year of learning to play at a new speed and bulking up before he is ready for the two-deeps.

      As to whether ND should use a spot for him, I’m willing to trust the coaches on that. We can list those who we think are coming and who we hope will come and end up with close to 30, but we won’t get all of them and may lose a kid or two also (e.g., Yeargin who is taking an official elsewhere), so ending up around 25 seems realistic and darn strong.

  2. dudeacow - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Alright, this is getting kind of frustrating. With precious few spots left in the class, and with five star players like WR Michiah Quick, NT Matt Elam, S Juju Smith, possibly CB Jabrill Peppers, and four star MLB Nyles Morgan still considering Notre Dame, why are we giving spots to three star players? Since TE Tyler Luatua, WR/RB Charles Nelson, MLB Nile Sykes, DE Kolin Hill, and S Payton Hendrix (1 four star and 4 three stars) are all probably about to commit, we need to be extremely selective. I get that Jhonny Williams tests off the charts, is having a great season, and has super high potential, but there’s a reason he’s a three star.

    Yeah yeah, I know that I’m sounding like a typical spoiled Notre Dame brat, and that I should be ecstatic that so many recruits are considering ND and that we are actually chasing fast and athletic players, but I’m beginning to feel some pressure on how all of this is going to work out.

    Go Irish, beat Stanford, blah blah blee blah doo, thanks for reading my rant.

    P.S. welcome aboard Jhonny! I actually like you, and I’m glad for this great opportunity you have. Now please change your name, it really was a pain to try to search for you on 247 Sports. 15 MINUTES I spent before I realized that Keith didn’t make a typo.

  3. dudeacow - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    That’s a link to his highlights, which you REALLY need to watch. Especially :36 and 1:26. This kid is crazy athletic. With all the athleticism we’re snagging from guys like Williams, Bonner, Blankenship, etc., this defense is going to look scary good. Although, I guess athleticism isn’t all that matters though. After all, Farley is pretty dang athletic, and we all know how we’ll he’s doing.

    P.S. if this kid wins the heisman or something, I hold the power to recant everything I said in my previous comment.

    • onward2victory - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      Did you really hear that Jabrill Peppers might be looking at ND again?? Don’t get my hopes up Dude! I think Jabrill is going to be a really special player, and I hate that he’s going to Michigan.

    • goirishgo - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:08 AM


      Thanks for posting although it was difficult for me to determine if that was his highlight film or Bobby Bouchet’s.

      • mtflsmitty - Nov 28, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Any Bobby Bouchet comment always gets a thumbs up.

  4. alsatiannd - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Either Williams was playing against middle schoolers or he’s a very underrated 3-star. In his tape he’s throwing quarterbacks around like rag dolls.

    • mtflsmitty - Nov 28, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      I’ve invested a grand total of 20 minutes to understand Williams’ recruitment. So take these comments with a grain of salt:

      August: Williams was a sure thing to Toledo.
      September 29: Receives and accept offer from Mizzu
      Early Oct: Receives first 247 rating of 81
      November 14: Gets ND offer
      November 15: Gets UM offer
      November 17: Receives updated 247 rating of 85
      November 22: ND visit
      We know the rest.

      What I find interesting is how the rating services seem to be increasing their quality rating after Williams receives more impressive offers.

      • nudeman - Nov 28, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Hard to disagree. There is definitely a lemning-like quality to these services.

      • wisner74 - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        No pun intended, right Nude?

  5. mediocrebob - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Some of you people always have something negative to say. How miserable are your lives that you have to come on here and complain about everything.

    This staff knows what they’re doing. Much more than we do. And Notre Dame doesn’t have a realistic shot at MOST of those 4-5 star guys that are left.

    How do you people find the negative in everything? If the Irish beat Stanford, it won’t be by enough, right?

    Whatever. Go Irish. Beat tree

    • dudeacow - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Hey, Jack! I’m a Notre Dame fan. Of course I have something negative to say. And for your information, ND is the favorite for Quick, Smith, and Morgan. Elam is the biggest target (literally) left, so the staff needs some room for him, just in case. And I realize how spoiled I am, but I think that can be blamed on BK, not me. Remember when we were worried that he couldn’t recruit?

      Oh, and if you were wondering, OF COURSE I know more about how to run a football program than Kelly.

    • onward2victory - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      I love this type of commit! The athleticism of a 4-5 star player without the negative side-effects that tend to happen to 17 year olds who get way too much attention.

      Also I heard on a ND podcast recently (can’t remember which) that the staff might plan to over-sign this recruiting cycle in anticipation of the inevitable transfers and/or season ending injury during spring ball. So don’t be surprised if they take 1 or 2 more guys than we think they can take.

      • papadec - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:16 PM

        You mean, Gasp, that ND might recruit like teams in the sec? I, I, I, I, don’t know what to say.

      • mtflsmitty - Nov 28, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        I’d have no problem with that. For better or worse (probably worse), its the way the game is played these days.

  6. buckynd13 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Looking at Williams highlight video he is lightning quick off the ball. That you can’t teach and it doesn’t matter who he’s going up against to react that fast off the ball up front is not a recruit we are used to getting. He could grow into a rush end and play up front maybe. Anyway there are many great 3 star recruits and the fact that he lives so close to ND means maybe BK knows or heard something about this kid that the rest of us are underestimating. Go Irish!

  7. 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    maybe jhonny is the project of all projects, and maybe his 3 stars are just due to his potential, but there have been some projects that have worked out pretty well, like dikembe mutombo.

    you just can’t teach 6’5″ (6’6″?), 240 lbs, especially when there is a 4.5 40 and quick first step that accompanies those metrics. he could conceivably add 20 pounds or more, and not lose much of that first step or top end speed. that would be a whole lot of a big kid getting off the line fast and causing havoc off the edge. he also plays angry, which ND needs more of on defense as much as size, strength and speed.

    i can see this youngster and michael deeb leading the charge to bring anger back to ND’s defensive personality.

    • papadec - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:21 PM

      ATTITUDE? Yesssssss – I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hit the S-O-Bs in the backfield & make the QBs worry about every snap.

    • irishpuma - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      preach it 4horse…..6″6 240 on high school 4.5 allegedly!!! I will take that all day every day….wake up folks just cuz a ranking service shows him as 3 stars that means next to nothing…..It is his character and what he puts in during the next 5 years that will determine his star quotient. Welcome aboard Jhonny!

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        Exactly. I’m getting to the point where I (as a fan) don’t even care about star rankings. Notre Dame has had its share of four and five-star busts over the years. This young man sounds like a good pick up to me. And really, the problem lately has been about numbers. When the injuries pile up, who is left to come in and play?

        As a coach, I’d want to bring in a young man who’s head and heart are in the right place, a student-athlete who doesn’t mind working hard and knowing his role on the team…even if it’s in a backup role. As we’ve seen this year, backups are just one bad injury away from significant playing time.

      • irishpuma - Nov 28, 2013 at 12:11 AM

        amen ndgold! Finally looks like ND is getting it you have to over-sign and hope for the best..if that means a redshirt or a gray shirt or not letting a 5th year come back. We have to evolve in order to play with the big boys unfortunately.

      • nudeman - Nov 28, 2013 at 1:04 PM


        Good points.
        Ishaq is the prototype.
        I don’t mean to go all “Tommy Rees” on him, but he has the frame and athletic ability to be other worldly, but by any measurement he is a 5 star disappointment.
        He’s not a bum, but relative to what was expected of him, he hasn’t delivered.

        Thing I like most about J. Williams is that it’s said he has something of a frenetic pace and a mean streak. He’s also a 3 sport athlete (basketball and not sure what the third sport is) and I like the sound of that a lot.

  8. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I’m just hoping he’s number 2 and not number 67 in the photo above. 67 looks like he couldn’t run the 10 yard dash in 4.5.

  9. buckynd13 - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    It’s number “12”, and that’s him in the photo.

    • papadec - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      Looks like he could pack on 20, or so, pounds of muscle weight. Redshirt & weight room.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      A thousand pardons good sir. In my haste to post to post this totally meaningless fluff, I neglected to note the number “12” clearly emblazoned upon his shoulder. Additionally, I neglected to watch the highlight reel prior to posting. Had I done so, the correct numerals would have been more than obvious to any casual viewer. I do hope that on this Thanksgiving Day you could find it in your heart to forgive this most blatant of errors. If not, I completely understand your position. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!!!

      Your pal,
      Art Vandelay

  10. mediocrebob - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Peppers will end up at OSU if he leaves Michigan. Mark it down.

  11. deadman3020 - Nov 27, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Great add!!! Fast Fast Fast….

  12. 25kgold - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    I don’t always hate, but when I do–I HATE Michigan!!

    Stay Irish, my friends!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • whodabigdog - Nov 28, 2013 at 6:04 AM

      Hey two five. I dont know if you live up here or not. But i agree 100%. I hope OSU never hits the breaks and keeps shifting gears! Wishagan fans have been here very quiet lately. GO IRISH. Beat the tree huggers

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      25k……10 thumbs up if I could. Hilarious.

  13. irishfaithful666 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    I never really watch recruiting videos but I did watch his. This guy is a beast, with a great motor, and loads of determination. I think this could be a great add for the Irish and I hope he has a bright future at ND!

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      i grew up not so far from berrien springs, and granted it’s no hotbed of football talent so williams’ competition wasn’t the same as growing up in texas or florida. all that aside, that tape looked like he was lawrence taylor playing against 6 graders. the blindside hit he laid on punt return was just plain mean. a clean hit, but mean.

  14. kazmar619 - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I may have the answer to the 3 star vs. 4 star rating. I believe he is playing DE in high school and is rated as a 3 star DE. ND and Mich see him as a OLB where, if rated as a OLB, he would rate a 4 star rating.

    • nudeman - Nov 28, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      The star system is way itself overrated.
      So many kids bloom late, both physically and emotionally that projecting how a kid will fare in a violent sport 3-4 years out is just a mistake waiting to happen.

      Would I like a team full of 4 and 5 star players? Absolutely.
      But the landscape is FULL of guys who were 3 and even 2 star guys who were solid CFB players.
      Eifert comes immediately to mind.
      And Rommy Toma also comes to mind.
      An overachieving, undersized guy who had 5 star attitude and guts.
      I like having a handful of those guys on my team too.

      • wisner74 - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        On the underachieving side of the 4-5 star discussion, anybody remember Carlos Pierre Antoine?

  15. irishdodger - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    According to his Twitter feed, he is now backing away from his commitment to ND

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