The Jhonny Williams era at Notre Dame is over. After redshirting his freshman season, the Benton Harbor, Michigan native will look to reboot his academic and football career elsewhere. The defensive end took to Facebook to announce the news.
“Friends, family, loved ones, I will be transferring from the university of Notre Dame to pursue a football/academic career elsewhere, thank you for your support,” Williams wrote.
Where Williams ends up is not yet clear, but multiple reports say that the defensive end can transfer with no restrictions, though will need to sit out the 2015 season if he plays at the FBS level before having three seasons of eligibility remaining. When reached for comment by the South Bend Tribune’s Tyler James, Williams responded via text:
“Great school, great place, just not the right fit.”
The departure isn’t likely to have much of an effect on Notre Dame’s depth chart, though Williams looked like a potential answer at weakside defensive end, a position with Romeo Okwara and Andrew Trumbetti currently slotted in the two-deep. Williams continues a run of seemingly bad luck at a position that’s been very difficult for this coaching staff to recruit, and remains a major priority in the 2016 recruiting cycle, especially with the offseason loss of incoming freshman Bo Wallace. Add to that the uncertainty of Ishaq Williams’ NCAA eligibility, and if there’s a roster deficiency on the defensive side of the ball, it’s certainly at end.
Williams arrived on campus as a lanky former basketball player, listed at 230 pounds as a Notre Dame signee and the type of long and explosive athlete Irish fans craved as a 4-3 defensive end. But his road to the field wasn’t an easy one, as Williams spent a year learning the game after coming into South Bend as a raw athlete. He worked his way up to 260 pounds this spring, with the highlight coming on the Blue-Gold game’s final play with his touch-sack of backup quarterback Montgomery VanGorder.
As Notre Dame looks at its 85-man scholarship limit, history is once again showing why there is little reason to worry about being over the limit. With Williams joining Everett Golson as transfers, that’s 30-plus consecutive seasons where Notre Dame has had a football player transfer.
EDIT: Williams spoke with Irish 247’s Tom Loy about the decision to leave Notre Dame:
“This was the best decision for me,” said Williams to Irish247‘s Tom Loy. “I love Notre Dame. I love the coaching staff. I love the players. I love every single thing about Notre Dame. This has nothing to do with the football program or anything with the staff. I can’t say it enough how much I appreciate my time at Notre Dame. This was just a decision about family. My family has been going through some stuff and my mom is dealing with some stuff and I just want to be a little closer to home right now. My mind has been elsewhere and that’s where my focus has been. Things are much better now, so I want to find a fresh start somewhere and put my focus and attention into it 100-percent.”