Notre Dame picked up yet another big-time commitment over the weekend when top-100 overall prospect C.J. Williams selected Notre Dame over Texas and Stanford capping a wild week of wide receiver recruiting for the Irish.
Notre Dame is adding an extremely high floor player in CJ Williams. He is already a polished route runner and a physically imposing athlete – characteristics that will likely lead to very early playing time for him at Notre Dame given the Irish depth chart in the upper classes. He’s not a classic outside receiver, but rather a master on the inside where Notre Dame recruited him to play.
The Notre Dame coaching staff has told Williams they envision him as a Keenan Allen type receiver in their offense – someone that Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees has first-hand experience working with from his short tenure with the San Diego Chargers. Notre Dame has not had an elite option on the inside for some time now. Avery Davis has the potential to be a playmaker working out of the slot this season, but it’s been a while since the Irish have had a weapon like Williams who will potentially be a matchup nightmare for whoever gets lined up on him.
For Notre Dame’s power offense that we saw in great detail in 2020, Williams is a perfect fit as a more than able blocker. His junior year film, which encompasses just a five-game season, has multiple clips of Williams displaying the kind of blocking we’ve become accustomed to from the likes of Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin over the last few years.
That same junior film shows Williams potential working out of the slot. It’s very different than Tobias Merriweather’s film where Merriweather is just running by defenders and using his athleticism. Williams is a technician and elite route runner who is going to be future Notre Dame quarterbacks’ best friend because he’ll be the kind of target Notre Dame is going to on 3rd and 6 and 3rd and 7 because he can get open quick with his release and technique. Williams also projects to be an extremely high-volume receiver for the Irish in the future. It would be surprising if he was a 20 yards per catch player on the next level, but shouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s a 8-10 reception a game player.
If there was any knock on Williams heading into his senior season it was that he wasn’t considered a burner and some questioned whether or not his speed would translate to the college level. Williams has done a hell of a job silencing those doubts with an impressive season on the track circuit where he’s continued to improve on his times all off-season long.
Rankings-wise, Williams is ranked as the #86 overall prospect in the country and #11 rated wide receiver. Rivals is even more bullish on Williams ranking him #29 overall and #3 at wide receiver.
In a five-game, COVID-shortened season in the spring, Williams caught 16 passes for 239 yards and 5 touchdowns. As a sophomore, in 12 games, he hauled in 50 passes for 684 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The addition of Williams continued a wild week at wide receiver recruiting for Notre Dame and the much-maligned WR coach Del Alexander. Notre Dame added Merriweather, the #125 overall prospect in the country, committed to Notre Dame last Wednesday over the likes of Oregon and Stanford. Williams and Merriweather joined one of the class of 2022’s fastest-rising receivers Amorion Walker giving Notre Dame a well-rounded class of elite pass catchers.
Aside from Notre Dame adding two prospects in or near the top 100 along with an Under Armour All-American in Walker, the trio compliments each other very well similar to how the class of 2021 of Deion Walker, Lorenzo Styles, and Jayden Thomas complimented each other very well.
In all likelihood, Notre Dame will try to add another elite receiver after losing Jordan Johnson and Jay Brunelle to off-season transfers leaving the Irish with just one scholarship-wide receiver in the current sophomore and junior classes combined. With Williams, Walker, and Merriweather onboard, the Irish staff can be selective and aggressive in who they target for a potential fourth wide receiver. The staff will need to stay on top of all three commitments – Walker especially – because other programs are not going to slow down their efforts even with their commitments to Notre Dame.
Del Alexander took A LOT of heat from the Notre Dame Twittersphere and message boards after the transfers, but he responded with another massive haul at receiver after last year’s elite trio.