Jhonathon Williams is ready for a change. The former Berrien Springs (Mich.) standout announced last week that he would be leaving Notre Dame after one redshirt year in South Bend.
“Notre dame is a great place to be academically and athletically,” Williams told The Michigan Insider. “The environment there was great, the coaching staff is great, and the players are great. It just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
Prior to signing with the Irish the 6-4, 260 lb. defensive end prospect navigated through a number of twists and turns in his recruitment. He flew beneath the recruiting radar for much a high school career that began with him fancying himself more of a basketball prospect. He didn’t venture over to the gridiron until his sophomore season, and didn’t field much interest from college coaches until after a strong showing during his junior campaign. Things went to another level when he turned heads at Michigan State’s football camp the summer of 2013. Toledo pounced soon after with an offer and Williams quickly accepted. When Missouri stepped forth with a scholarship a few months later the lure of playing on a bigger college football stage was too much to pass up. However his subsequent pledge to the Tigers was weakened when Notre Dame and Michigan turned began turning up the heat. Both offered, but the Irish secured his pledge midway through his senior season.
Now he has a chance to retrace his steps and go the other way this time.
“I received my release to Michigan,” Williams reported. “I’ll be taking a look at Michigan Thursday (i.e. today).”
“I’m looking at Michigan, Toledo, and anybody that comes into play. I’m just going to kind of play the field.”
That said, the Wolverines have a clear advantage over the rest of the field.
“The best players from Michigan play in Michigan,” said Williams when asked why he’s interested in exploring the Maize & Blue again. “I’m from Michigan and being from Michigan playing at Michigan would be pretty special. (The interest) has always been there.”
The reason for Michigan’s interest is obvious. The athletic youngster was a hybrid linebacker/defensive end for Notre Dame, and there aren’t any players with his impressive combination of size and speed currently in the mix at the new defense’s BUCK position. On paper it’s a perfect match, but the two sides must first determine how well they mesh off the field. For Williams that starts with seeing how he connects with Jim Harbaugh.
“I’m supposed to meet him (today), but from what I hear he is a great guy and even better coach,” said Williams. “I’m looking forward to meeting him.”
Should they hit it off the talented youngster isn’t opposed to ending his latest recruitment before it really starts. When asked if a commitment was possible he didn’t mince words.
“(There’s) definitely a chance,” he said laughingly.
“I want to get it done as soon as I possibly can. Soon as I can figure out where I’m going. I’d like to seal the deal. I’m just looking for a feeling of confidence in my decision. I don’t want to second guess the choice I make this time. I want to feel confident about it.”
Once Williams selects a school he will have to sit out next season as a transfer. He will then will have three years of eligibility remaining.