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.”