Future of Ishaq Williams at Notre Dame Remains Uncertain

Ishaq Williams - Notre Dame DE
Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

When Brian Kelly opened spring practice last month he didn’t have much of an update on the future of would be senior defensive Ishaq Williams.  Three weeks later, the Fighting Irish head coach still couldn’t offer much clarity on the future of the one time 5-star prospect as things remain very uncertain with Williams’s future.

“We did not.”  Brian Kelly said on Wednesday when asked if he had a chance to talk with Williams last week when he was on campus to watch Notre Dame’s Pro Day.  “All we had a chance to say was ‘Hello and how you doing’ but we did not get a chance to talk any further than that.  He’s going to be back here after the spring game and I’ll get a chance to spend more time (with him),” Kelly added.

A prior commitment apparently kept Kelly and Williams from connecting in more depth.  “He was short on time,” Kelly explained.  “He had to get back to Chicago for a prior commitment.  I’ll get a chance to spend some more time with him.  We plan on doing that some time in April.”

Event though Kelly has plans to spend time with Williams later this month to talk in more detail, it doesn’t sound like he has a very clear understanding of where Williams’s mind is at.  “I don’t know that I have full clarity on it,” Kelly said.  “We know that there are some hurdles for him academically that he has to work through and he knows that as well.  I think what well try to get some clarity on its what his intentions are academically.”

Those things that Kelly referenced are academic hurdles Williams will need to pass following his exile last year following the academic investigation that cost Williams, Keivarae Russell, and Kendall Moore the entire 2014 season. “Things that he’ll have to take care of in the summer time just to get the ball moving for his ability to be reinstated,” Kelly added.

The fate of Williams really remains the only mystery of the “Academic 5” from last summer.  It’s been widely reported that Russell’s return is almost all but a formality at this point.  Davaris Daniels has declared for the NFL Draft and participated in last week’s Pro Day.  Moore was a 5th year senior last year and has no more eligibility so he will try to catch on with a NFL team this summer.  The 5th member of the group, Eilar Hardy, was the only one to play last year and he will transfer to Bowling Green once he graduates.

Kelly’s remarks regarding Williams throughout this off-season have not necessarily been glowing.  Some of that is just reading through the tea leaves and pure speculation, but his tone when discussing Williams has not been the same as it’s been when he’s discussed Russell.

Still, getting Williams back in the fold would potentially be a nice boost for a defensive line that while starved for depth last year actually looks pretty well stocked for 2015.  One area that Williams could potentially help is in the pass rush department though.  While Williams only has one career sack, he spent his first two seasons playing outside linebacker where he struggled to adjust.  Last year much was expected of Williams as he moved to his more natural position of defensive end, but all of that optimism was lost following the results of the academic investigation.

For now though, not much has changed on the Williams front and it sounds like the earliest we might know anything more definitive might be the end of this month.


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  2. from:
    Mike T
    April 12, 2015 at 11:55 am
    “Let’s not forget Michael, he brought this all on himself. He cheated/broke the academic rules and now he’s paying for it. Is the punishment excessive? Maybe. But clearly the message to these kids is that cheating and unethical behavior can hurt your future so don’t do it.

    While some rules are debatable as to their relevance or fairness, they are still the rules. We all follow rules we think are silly and if silly enough we seek to change them.

    Hopefully the other players are witnessing what’s happening to Williams and learning several lessons that may keep them from making the same mistake.”

    @ Mike T
    re: Ishaq Williams uncertain future . . .

    If I’d never made a mistake, I could see your point.
    I, however, have made mistakes. Rules are necessary.
    Consequences are necessary.
    But letting the punishment fit the crime is what fairness is all about.
    The folly of this still unresolved saga cannot be debated, as privacy disallows us knowing what he did to justify this ongoing seemingly never-ending suspension. I’ve seen what second chances can offer, (see: Jerian Grant, Everett Golson) and what young men do with those second chances are better measures of character than a one-and-done hit the road consequence.
    Your thought that “he brought this all on himself” implies an action, or subsequent actions so inappropriate that this punishment fits the crime. As for using him as an example, I trust the players have noticed already.
    Lest we forget, the “frozen five” fiasco remains unresolved because Ishaq and his family value a degree from ND, or he’d have moved on like three of the others (two without an ND degree) have already done. Here’s one ND fan who hopes Ishaq gets his second chance at both his ND degree and his final season.

  3. Let’s not forget Michael, he brought this all on himself. He cheated/broke the academic rules and now he’s paying for it. Is the punishment excessive? Maybe. But clearly the message to these kids is that cheating and unethical behavior can hurt your future so don’t do it.

    While some rules are debatable as to their relevance or fairness, they are still the rules. We all follow rules we think are silly and if silly enough we seek to change them.

    Hopefully the other players are witnessing what’s happening to Williams and learning several lessons that may keep them from making the same mistake.

  4. Did Ishaq assassinate a Church Curia member, or what?
    When is enough enough?

    Whatever he originally did or didn’t do, he kept his mouth shut and willingly dropped out last Fall to serve his mandated two semester dismissal,leaving behind a full quarter of credits from courses he was enrolled in because, of course, that’s what the “honor code” ruled for the ‘frozen five’.
    if they wanted to return this summer, minimum of two semesters out. Temporary banishment !
    His interest in returning was emphasized by his father when he first spoke after months of silence,
    stressing how Ishaq getting his degree was the foremost objective for the Williams’ family.

    Now that ND’s “honor committee” (having deferred to their judgment, be they Moe, Curly or Larry) is done messing with this kid’s future, it’s apparently time for the NCAA to jerk him around. His stumbling block now, from what scant info there is out there, is an NCAA rule about his return as an eligibility issue when he worked to make money rather than continue taking classes outside of ND- of course-
    AFTER ND told him the only way he’d be able to play in ’15 is drop all the credits he was earning ,
    so – get this?!-he’d be out for TWO semesters to uphold the “honor code!”
    Temporary banishment is turning into permanent exclusion?
    I hope some of this preposterous mess isn’t true, but for certain- that’s history.
    Ishaq Williams’ future is current events.
    This dysfunctional frozen five drama goes on and on for him whether we talk about it or not!

    Is there anybody out there with any say able to give this guy a second chance?
    When is enough enough?


  5. If Williams had an interest in returning he’d be keeping Kelly up to date. They shouldn’t have to drag the info out of him. I’d be very surprised if we see him play for ND again.

  6. It kinda boggles my mind how in the era of 24-7 coverage of sports stories like this can be so in the dark. Lol The lack of information released on Jarrett Grace over the last year and half made me scratch my head.

    It’s almost as if it’s intentional. I’m not sure that I buy the story that the coaches have not spoken to Ishaq or that they were not up to speed with Jarrett and his recovery…expectations….something/anything. Lol

    Ishaq was a guy going into last fall with even higher expectations from the fan base and coaching staff. He finally was going to play a position that’s natural to him and it “could” translate to a breakout year for him. His presence is a big deal…as much as/more than targeting a high profile high school recruit.

    I’m overjoyed to see that Grace is in the hunt for playing time, Russel is back in the fight & Joe will be playing as well. These 3 guys will make this IRISH defense stronger and add play making abilities. I’d really like to see ishaq given the chance to be the 4th.

    I guess patients in order to hear wha comes of Ishaq. Lol

    Looking forward to the Blue and Gold game!!

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