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Feb. 6 Outstanding Student Athlete: Berrien Springs' Jhonny Williams

By Carl Deffenbaugh
Published On: Feb 06 2014 06:32:26 PM CST
Updated On: Aug 25 2014 01:58:00 PM CDT

Berrien Springs star Jhonny Williams is headed to Notre Dame to play football for the Irish, and Williams is the WSBT-Burger King Outstanding Student-Athlete. Carl Deffenbaugh has his story.

BERRIEN SPRINGS -

One of the most intriguing members of Notre Dame's 2014 class of recruits is the man who has played the least actual football.

"Who knows what his future is going to be," Brian Kelly said. "There is no ceiling on Jhonny Williams."

Williams, a defensive end/rush linebacker prospect from Berrien Springs, entered high school hoping to star on the basketball court.

"I just kind of figured maybe I could be, I don't know, the next Kobe Bryant or something," Williams says. "But no handles, no shot."

No Kobe, but at 6'6 and 230 pounds he is still a monster in the post for the Shamrocks. And Williams eventually made his way to the gridiron, initially as a sophomore before playing his first full season as a junior.

"I remember my first play on the field, getting flattened by a pulling guard," says Williams. "I had no idea what a pulling guard was."

He is a quick learner though. Williams recorded 12.5 sacks and an all-state nod during his senior year.

For Kelly, evaluating players from smaller programs like Berrien Springs relies on two things.

"First of all he's got to dominate his opponent," says Kelly.

The second marker is success in other sports.

"Jhonny Williams' numbers in track and field are off the charts for his size," Kelly said of the state finalist shot putter and high jumper.

Williams also says he trained in Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, since he was a small child. It is something that prepared him for a future on the defensive line.

"I always loved defense," Williams says. "You just run and hit people, that's fun. It was physical and it was fast, so I liked it."

For someone so late to the game, recruiting was a whirlwind. He committed to Toledo, and then Missouri, before the Irish even offered.

"I got to do what's best for me," says Williams. "And Notre Dame is what's best for me."

It has been quite a ride for Jhonny Williams. And it is only just beginning.