Friday, May 04, 2007

Filling Up the Middle | by Jay

Another brick in the defensive wall: New Jersey player Hafis Williams, a 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle, committed to the Irish this week. The SBT has the scoop:

Williams, who visited unofficially for the April 21 Blue-Gold Game, registered 106 tackles and six sacks as a junior, according to recruiting Web site Williams is ranked as one of the top 100 players nationally by CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, and Lemming ranks him as a five-star recruit, his highest ranking.

"He's got a motor that's always going," said Lemming, who ranks Williams as the best defensive lineman in New Jersey. "I like him because Notre Dame is desperate for defensive line-types."

[His high school coach] Parlavecchio believes that Williams could beef up to 300 pounds and that he'll play inside in ND's revamped 3-4 defense. Lemming also believes that Williams will end up inside, although he can't rule out defensive end.
Williams was recruited by Corwin Brown and seems a great fit for the style of defense the new coordinator is putting together. From a piece last month on Williams in Irish Eyes:
Williams has tried to get Parlavecchio to switch his defense from a 4-3 formation to a 3-4. He played it in middle school, but coach isn’t budging.

“I love the 3-4, I think it’s my favorite defense,” Williams said.
He's also a pretty good wrestler, and Corwin Brown has mentioned in the past how he likes defensive linemen who have a background in wrestling, because they know how to play with leverage -- even if outweighed.

Williams nailed down an offer from Charlie Weis back at the beginning of April, and travelled to Notre Dame for the Blue-Gold game two weekends ago. The visit all but sealed the deal, and he nearly committed that weekend. From the Irish Illustrated release:
While the Weis visit helped seal the deal for the Irish, the biggest move Notre Dame made in landing the New Jersey stand out was getting him in town for the spring game. A fan of the program's traditions, Williams felt himself clicking with the Irish from the second he set foot on campus. He said Weis could see it happening.

"When I went out there, he saw my eyes light up like light bulbs," Williams said. "He was ecstatic when I told him. He said let's get this train moving right here. He said Jersey guys stick with Jersey guys."
Williams plays for Elizabeth High School in North Jersey, and last year they went 11-1 and won the state championship for their division. He had over 100 tackles as a junior despite near constant double-teams, with an eye-popping 65 tackles for a loss (and six sacks, for good measure). “I would have had more tackles, but we had three great linebackers and I just had to try and get my fair share,” Williams said. Williams is expected to be one of the top two or three senior defensive linemen in the state his senior year.

Irish Eyes had a radio interview with Williams back on April 3, which you can listen to here. He seems like an excellent fit for Notre Dame, both on and off the field.
“My grandmother, she is like my motivator,” Williams said. He has a 3.3 GPA. “My freshman year coming into high school, she said the only way you can succeed is with good grades in the classroom. She always knew if I got any type of interest for football, first I’d have to do it in the classroom. I always worked hard at school for her, but my freshman year I started doing it for myself. It became part of my character, do things for myself.

“She was right, and the more I did for myself, it started to take over on the field,” Williams continued. “I’ve got better every year since my freshman year because she put me in that environment. I started my freshman year and did what I had to do, and I have started ever since.”

“When you live in like a bad neighborhood, you always dream of playing at Notre Dame but you don’t think it can happen,” Williams said. “Now I see it can really happen, my dream is coming true."