It appears the long and winding recruiting journey of one of Penn State football's top 2011 targets ended Friday in South Bend, Ind., not University Park.
Five-star U.S. Army All-American Bowl defensive end Ishaq Williams has decided to attend Notre Dame, the New York Post reported on its website Friday. He intends to enroll this semester; Notre Dame begins classes next week.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Williams was compared to Jason Taylor by his high school coach and ranked the seventh-best defensive end in the country by Scout.com, and led Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. to the city championship game for the first time in 17 years.
Two messages left by the Mirror for Abraham Lincoln coach Shawn O'Connor this week were unreturned, but the Railsplitters coach told the Post his star player selected Notre Dame Friday morning. Williams also considered Syracuse, where both his parents went to college.
It was a dramatic change from reports Thursday that Williams was making an official visit to Penn State Friday and Saturday. Williams had nixed a college-choice announcement at the All-American Bowl Saturday and Nittany Lion fans began to get their hopes up when reports began to surface that he was leaning toward Penn State and just waiting for the defensive coaching situation to sort itself out.
"I feel it would be unfair to choose among the three schools if I'm not able to evaluate them all the same," Williams, who had taken several unofficial visits to Penn State, told the Post. "I took a visit to Syracuse and Notre Dame. I need to see Penn State."
Penn State had been considered the early favorite to land Williams. However, during the season, Notre Dame seemed to overtake the Lions before the rumors from the All-American Bowl.
Penn State currently has 12 commitments for a class figuring to eventually number 15 to 18 signees, not including Kiski Prep defensive back Shyquawn Pullium, who committed to the Lions last February and has reaffirmed those intentions several times since.
The Lions were expected to have several prospects on campus this weekend, but that has changed. Maryland defensive tackle Darian Cooper, figured to be leaning to Penn State, had his visit cancelled and was told a scholarship was no longer available to him earlier this week according to several internet reports. Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Hendy, North Carolina running back Romar Morris and Ohio quarterback Cardale Jones also were among several players to have visits called off.
According to Scout.com recruiting reporter Cory James, Glenville, Ohio receiver Shane Wynn, Glenville defensive tackle Andre Sturdivant and Maryland defensive back Blake Countess were the only three players visiting this weekend. Another U.S. Army All-American, Countess verbally committed to Michigan in mid-December before the Wolverines fired Rich Rodriguez as coach.
Penn State told Connecticut defensive back Christon Gill there would not be room for him in this class, either, and New York safety recruit Brandon Reddish committed to Syracuse earlier in the week.
Penn State also remains in the running for New Jersey wideout Bill Belton and Philadelphia defensive end Deion Barnes. The Lions are considered to be way out in the lead for Barnes, who will announce his decision on his birthday, Jan. 20. A former Pitt commit, Belton is down to Penn State and West Virginia.