There has been no hiding the struggles of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s defense this season. After being led to the National Championship game last year by the defense, the team has struggled to find their own identity in the 2013 season.
One player, however, is starting to make a name for himself, and his versatility and play on the field has been one of the bright spots this season. Ishaq Williams has become one of the Irish’s top players off of the bench, playing in all five games so far, and has become apart of the team’s nickel package.
The Junior from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, NY has seen the most playing time he has ever seen, spelling Prince Shembo and, at times, on the defensive line subbing for Kona Schwenke while Sheldon Day has been out.
In a team that has struggled to get to the quarterback, Williams has one of the team’s four sacks this season, getting to Devin Gardner in their game against the Michigan Wolverines. The sack was also the first of his career at Notre Dame, which is hard to believe with the hype that surrounded the former five star recruit.
Some wondered if Williams would ever reach the ceiling they believed he should when he was recruited, and with only one year of eligibility left after this year, time is certainly running out. It wasn’t exactly his fault, as the Irish have Shembo starting now, and Darius Flemming before him, so there has been talent blocking him.
However, he has found a role that could right now better suit the team and its needs, which is depth and speed on the edge. As Williams’ playing time increases, we could very well see that player that was so good that defensive coordinator Bob Diaco showed up at his door at 4:30 in the morning, trying to persuade the recruit that Notre Dame should be his choice, rather than Penn State.
There is certainly no doubt that Williams can be ‘that guy,’ in a game against a team where his speed will earn him extra playing time. This could be that time we see Williams step up in a big way.