It had long been speculated that a return to the Notre Dame football team was unlikely for Ishaq Williams following his involvement in last summer’s academic scandal. Thursday that speculation became reality when the NCAA denied the former 5-star recruit’s appeal for eligibility and in the process preventing him from suiting up for Notre Dame in 2015.
Williams, unlike Keivarae Russell, was always thought to be a long shot for reinstatement by the NCAA and had not been practicing with the team making Thursday’s news not particularly devastating for Notre Dame’s chances in 2015. The news was, however, a devastating blow, to what looked like a very promising career five years ago when Williams was rising up the prep ranks and tearing up the competition at the US Army All-American Bowl.
Williams played as a true freshman for Notre Dame in 2011, but was never ever able to play up to his five star billing and ends his Irish career with just a single sack to his credit. It’s a rather unfortunate ending to Williams collegiate career – especially since his skillset figured to play much more into the defense that Brian VanGorder brought to Notre Dame last year. Williams, however, never played an official down in VanGorder’s offense after last year’s suspension. With Thursday’s ruling by the NCAA, he will never do so either.
Unlike Russell, Williams did not attend classes at Notre Dame or anywhere else during the spring semester. For that reason, Russell’s case was always considered much more of a formality and that is why the senior corner had been practicing with the team even before officially being cleared by the NCAA.
Had Williams been reinstated, he would have likely played a contributor role in the Notre Dame defensive line rotation – especially with Jarron Jones out for the season. Following the loss of Jones, Notre Dame could have used another defensive end like Williams on the edge of the defense in spots allowing them to move Isaac Rochell inside.
Notre Dame is still in fine shape along the defensive line without Williams and since they made it all the way through training camp without him, it was likely that his contributor role would have been limited anyway given all of the time he had been away from football activities.
Williams will remained enrolled in school at Notre Dame and will continue working towards his degree. Despite his inability to play this fall, the fact that Williams will still have the opportunity to finish off his degree is the one positive to come of this story.
Williams could potentially continue to work out and pursue a NFL career, but he won’t be able to practice with the team and realistically speaking, his chances of a NFL career after two years away from football would be remote. For Williams’s sake, hopefully he will take advantage of the opportunity ahead of him and finish off his degree and in the words of Fortune, walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame.