For once distance worked in Notre Dame's favor in the recruiting game, as CBK and Company received the 2014 class's 20th verbal commitment today from Berrien Springs, Michigan DE/OLB Jhonny Williams. Williams is 6'6", 230 lbs., and runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash according to Rivals.
Williams originally committed to Mizzou, but picked up an Irish offer recently, visited for the BYU game, and spurned the Tigers and, even better, the skunkbears, in favor of the Irish earlier today.
Recruiting Service Rankings:
ESPN- 3 Star (#126 DE, #30 MI) 73 Grade
Rivals - 3 Star (#18 MI)
Scout - 3 star (#71 DE)
247 Sports - 3 star (#37 SDE, #15 MI)
247 Sports Composite Score - 3 star (.8401), #996 Overall (#42 SDE, #15 MI)
Williams is a pretty under-the-radar prospect, so while he's not all over the youtubes, here are his highlights on Hudl.
The Irish killed two birds with one stone with Williams's commitment, as they not only brought another long, athletic defender into the 2014 front-seven class, but also deprived Michigan of their Da'Shawn Hand backup plan. Back slaps all around, Irish fans.
Williams is a wiry 6'6", 230-240 lbs. OFD's own James Miesle has compared Jhonny favorably to Ishaq Williams and Romeo Okwara--he's a long, slender outside linebacker prospect that could settle in at Cat, grow into a defensive end, or provide the Irish with the position flexibility to play both positions. Ishaq Williams really never made a significant contribution until he had been in the program for 3 years. Okwara, by contrast, was pressed into special teams action as a 17-year-old freshmen and has played 3 or 4 positions on defense as a sophomore. At this point Williams is so under-the-radar that it's tough to really predict whether his career path will be closer to that of Ishaq or Okwara. Last year's OLB class was a one-man (wrecking) crew, so I'll go out on a limb and say that Williams will be pressed into action early, at least on special teams. I doubt he sees much action at OLB, though, with guys like Ishaq Williams and Okwara vying for the starting job and other members of the 2014 class likely pressing for action. On the other hand, he looks like a pretty strong pass-rusher, and that skill could get him onto the field early, since it's a skill that's been in short supply from ND defenders not named Tuitt and Shembo.
Like many of the prospects in this front-seven class, Williams will provide position flexibility. Like current Irish Cats Shembo, Williams, and Okwara, Jhonny Williams should eventually be able to set the edge against the rush and pressure the quarterback either standing up or with his hand on the ground. Based on his frame, though, I doubt that he ever develops the brute strength of a guy like Okwara, and he'll need a few years to
bulk up and get slow develop into an every-down player like Ishaq and Okwara. Still, he's an athletic 6'6", and to me he looks more diamond-in-the-rough than RKG. If nothing else we can look forward to days when Ishaq and Jhonny simultaneously introduce themselves to the quarterback: "Ishaq Williams. Jhonny Williams. No relation."
Welcome to Notre Dame, Jhonny!