Jhonny Williams Commits to Notre Dame

Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today
Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today

The Notre Dame recruiting class of 2014 continues to take shape on the eve of Thanksgiving with Notre Dame picking up commitment #19 for this year’s class in the form of outside backer/defensive end Johnny Williams.

Jhonny Williams, a one time Missouri commitment, visited Notre Dame this past weekend for the BYU and decided a few days later that Notre Dame was where the Michigan native wanted to spend the next four or five years.  Notre Dame only recently offered Williams after getting a chance to review his senior film.  When they did, one thing jumped off the screen at them – Williams is one heck of an athlete.

Williams was recruited as an outside linebacker for the CAT (aka edge rusher position) for  Notre Dame but at 6’6″, 240 lbs with 4.5 speed already, it would be very easy to see Williams growing into a prototypical defensive end in the Notre Dame defense.  Williams is just the kind of long, tall athlete the Irish coveted at the defensive end spot and if his frame is able support the weight needed to play defensive end, he would be an ideal defensive end for the Irish.

If Williams doesn’t grow into a defensive end position, he will play the same role that Prince Shembo has manned for the Irish the past three years as the CAT linebacker at some point in his career.  With his long arms and speed, Williams has the potential to excel at the CAT position as well.

Right now, Williams is still very raw, but he has things that just can’t be taught – size, length, and speed.  Despite very desirable measureables for an edge rusher, Williams brings with him just a 3-star evaluation from most recruiting services because he is just starting to tap into his potential after only playing football for a couple of years.  It is also unclear if Williams fits in better as an outside backer or a defensive end on the college level either.

Williams’s high school coach recently told the South Bend that Williams has only been playing football for a few years because basketball was where Williams thought his future lied.

“He thought he was going to be a basketball player until his sophomore year and probably even through then,” Bergan said. “It was a process — a growing process, a maturation process — he had to go through. The whole time through he kind of bought into our weight-lifting program, so he’s always been a strong, explosive kid. Then he fell in love with the game even more as it went on.”

Regardless of where he fits in, Williams looks like a typical Brian Kelly recruit – raw, athletic and talented.  The kind of kid that you just want to get on campus and watch grow and then plug him in where he works out best.

If Williams is able to spend some time in the weight room with Paul Longo and redshirt next year while he continues to learn the nuances of playing defense – Notre Dame could have a nightmare of a pass rusher on its hands. Now, at the same time, there is no guarantee that a raw athlete like Williams will be able to put it all together but that’s why Notre Dame has position coaches.

Before committing to Notre Dame on Tuesday, Williams also picked up a late offer from Michigan in the wake of Da’Shawn Hand spurring the Wolverines, but it came down to Notre Dame and Missouri for Williams with the raw pass rusher never even visiting the in-state Wolverines.

As a senior, Williams’s raw talent was on full display at Berrien Springs High School where he collected 15 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks this past season. That raw talent is on full display below in high senior highlights.

Notre Dame now has Jonathan Bonner, Grant Blankenship, Matt Dickerson, Andrew Trumbetti, Jay Hayes Greer Martini, and Richard Yeargin all as part of his front seven recruiting in the class of 2014.


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  1. Definitely has potential despite the 3 star rating. It’s the speed I really like and we need that athleticism. Happy Thanksgiving to UHND and all bloggers!

    1. SteelfanRob,

      One of the recruits wants to go to ND and has committed, but ND needs his test scores before it’s official. He is a wide receiver out of Florida.

  2. Now if we could get one of the better ILBs like Sykes or Morgan AND massive DT Matt Elam and we’ll be set on D this class. Whatever spots remain can go to ATHs on O.

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