Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Finally, a Defensive Tackle | by Pat

The Fighting Irish nation let out a collective sigh of relief yesterday as Florida native Ian Williams publically committed to Notre Dame and gave ND it's first defensive tackle recruit of the 2007 class and 13th recruit overall. Williams said a variety of reasons, starting with academics, are what brought him to select ND.

'I chose Notre Dame because the academics are, by far, the best in the nation,'' Williams said. ''Plus I have a chance to come in and play early. And I feel we can win a national championship while I'm there.''
More than just the first DT recruit of this current recruiting cycle, the 6-2, 295 pound Williams is only the 3rd pure defensive tackle that the Irish have landed since 2002. Think about that for a second. Two defensive tackles play every down on defense and ND has only landed three ready-made tackles in the past four recruiting classes, with the other two being star recruit Trevor Laws and lightly recruited Derrell Hand. Now, I don't mean any insult to guys like Paddy Mullen and Pat Kuntz. Both are high energy guys that I expect to make positive contributions starting next year. But both clearly came to ND as defensive tackles in the making, and the "in the making" part is the key to this whole paragraph. For the past few years, ND has either struck out at defensive tackle or taken promising players that required some serious time in the weight room or at the training table.

Ian Williams on the other hand is all defensive tackle and, unlike Paddy and Pat, there won't be any debate if he's really a tight end or strongside defensive end. As a junior down at Lyman High School in Florida, Williams was named to the 5A First Team All-State. From there, recruiting started quickly with Florida offering him a scholarship early last February. Other schools followed and currently Williams holds close to 30 offers from schools like Tennessee, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, and Clemson. It appears that Florida was a finalist for Williams but a recent attempt to slow-play him backfired and Williams made the decision to commit to Notre Dame. For whatever reason, the recruiting sites rankings don't particularly jibe with his offer list as he's a 3-star guy on both Rivals and Scout, but ESPN's Scouts, Inc. gives him a better grade as the 11th best DT in the 2007 class and #118 overall.

All that being said, don't expect Williams to walk right in and grab a starting spot. He may have the size already, but most high school lineman have a lot to learn about technique before seeing the field and Williams is likely no exception. Still, as he adapts to the college game, he will add much needed depth, and size, to the Irish defensive line.

It's also worth noting that Williams is the 3rd Florida recruit so far for Notre Dame this year, which matches last year's haul (Young, Wenger, Jackson). While Charlie may have said that he'd make the midwest a priority in recruiting when he started at ND, he seems to love mining Florida (and pretty much anywhere else in the South). Of ND's 14 current public commits -- and more on #14, Golden Tate, in a bit -- eight are from south of the Mason-Dixon line.