Ishaq Williams, the nation's No. 4 DE, talks about playing in the Army All-America Bowl
NEW YORK -- Ishaq Williams, an All-American defensive end from Abraham Lincoln High School, narrowed his choice of colleges down to three by Thursday night. By Friday morning he had decided on Notre Dame.
What helped him make his decision a bit easier was a 4:30 a.m. visit from Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
"Any questions about whether or not Ishaq is important to their program are answered right there when the coach calls a minute into the permissible period and then shows up four and a half hours later," explained Williams' father Shaun Williams.
Williams had originally planned to make an announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 8, but had a hard time coming to a decision. He said it was only after Diaco showed up that he felt that Notre Dame was the right place for him to go, but as of Thursday it was still up in the air as he planned a trip to Penn State for Friday. Diaco showed up right as they were about to leave.Kelly Cline
Williams was the No. 29 recruit in the 2011 class and No. 6 defensive end according to ESPNU.
"I had just gotten out of the shower," Williams' father recalled. "We were getting ready to get on the road. I had on a bathrobe and was drinking some tea when coach Diaco came in.
"We were talking. We were laughing. When he left Ishaq said, 'daddy, how are we going to tell Penn State that I'm not going to go there?'
Diaco left at about 6:00 a.m. Friday morning and by about 7:00 a.m. the decision was made. He would be going to Notre Dame. So Williams called and canceled.
"When Ishaq's mind was made up we felt like out of respect to coach Joe Paterno and his staff at Penn State that it wouldn't make sense to go there and waste their day," his father said. "They had a whole itinerary of events. They had plans for us. We didn't want to waste anybody's time."
He also put in a call to Syracuse, the third college he was considering, to coach Doug Marrone to inform him of his decision.
This choice wasn't only about the attention the Fighting Irish gave Williams. A big part of it was that he felt the education that he would receive at Notre Dame would trump that of both Penn State and Syracuse.
"I took football out of it and I just thought that Notre Dame was the best place for me."
His father added that when they watched Notre Dame play at Yankee Stadium this winter that they were impressed by the large alumni network that was on display.
"When you have a strong alumni network it makes it easier to get a job," his father said. "Ishaq is more than a football player. Football is a thing that Ishaq does and he does it pretty well. He decided to use football to open up doors for himself."
Primarily a defensive end in high school, Williams is expected to play outside linebacker with Notre Dame. It's a role his high school coach Shawn O'Connor doesn't think he'll have any problem with.
"People say that's something that he's never done before," O'Connor said explaining his versatility. "Ishaq played wide receiver for us. He ran routes and caught balls. He also played running back for us. He ran the ball. So we know his athletic ability will shine in that position."
Williams, who is graduating early from Lincoln, will begin classes at Notre Dame next week and will join their the Fighting Irish during training camp this spring.
"It was very hard," Williams said of making this decision. "It came down to the wire. But after I decided it this morning I felt comfortable with it. It's a burden off my back. I'm just ready to take the next step in life."