Irish A-to-Z: Ishaq Williams

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The look of Notre Dame’s defensive line changed drastically when senior Ishaq Williams was suspended indefinitely for his role in the academic dishonesty case now pending at the university level. The former five-star recruit was expected to start at strongside defensive end, one final chance to live up to the lofty expectations that Williams brought with him to South Bend.

But with his future in doubt, the Irish now turn to youth upon youth at the position, with sophomore Isaac Rochell being backed up by freshman Grant Blankenship.

Assumed to be a key cog up front for Brian VanGorder’s defense, let’s look at what Williams means to the Irish defense.

Here’s more on the Brooklyn native.

 

ISHAQ WILLIAMS
6’5.5″ 271 lbs.
Senior, No. 11

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Williams’ recruitment went down in Irish lore, when defensive coordinator Bob Diaco intercepted Williams in the early morning hours, talking him into coming to Notre Dame as an early enrollee over Penn State. The five-star recruit had dozens of offers, but in the end he chose the Irish, joining forces with Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt to form a trio of pass rushers that had Irish fans dizzy with anticipation.

Here’s what Brian Kelly had to say about Williams, just weeks after he enrolled for the spring semester.

“A young man that has great versatility, played in the Army All-American game. Just a great young man,” Kelly said. “He’s just so quick. He can obviously do a lot of things for us. He can put his hand down like he is right here… Pretty athletic player that he’s going to be able to redirect and make the play.”

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2011): Made six tackles in 11 games, appearing on special teams and as a reserve outside linebacker.

Sophomore Season (2012): Played in all 13 games for the Irish, making 22 tackles and 3.5 TFLs. Forced the fumble that Stephon Tuitt ran back for a 77-yard touchdown. Made a career-high four tackles against the Midshipmen.

Junior Season (2013): Injuries cost him two games, but saw action in 11 games while making 17 tackles. Notched his first career sack against Michigan. Made three tackles against Michigan State and Stanford.

 

UPSIDE POTENTIAL

There’s still plenty of potential here, though the clock is almost done ticking. Williams wasn’t able to play in front of Prince Shembo at cat linebacker the past two seasons, and played behind Darius Fleming as a freshman. That’s not an indictment, but certainly doesn’t help.

A position change to defensive end put less of a burden on Williams, though we won’t know how he takes to the change until — and that’s no given — he’s allowed back on the football field for Notre Dame.

Williams still looks likely to find his way onto an NFL roster, simply because football players to tend to come in the shape and size of Williams too often. But if there’s been a disappointment over the past few years, it’s been Williams inability to work his way onto the field and be a productive defender.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

The future is just too murky without some clarity from the university on the academic status of Williams and the Four Coursemen. But if he’s able to play, he’s going to be a huge help along the defensive line, adding another big and strong body to a front that’s in desperate need of help.

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The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Will Fuller
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise
Anthony Rabasa
Doug Randolph
Max Redfield
Cody Riggs
Corey Robinson
Isaac Rochell
KeiVarae Russell
Joe Schmidt
Elijah Shumate
Jaylon Smith
Durham Smythe
Ronnie Stanley
Drue Tranquill
Andrew Trumbetti
John Turner
Justin Utupo
Nick Watkins
Nic Weishar