Four-star WR C.J. Williams drops Notre Dame commitment two days before early signing period

Tyler James
ND Insider
Four-star wide receiver C.J. Williams backed away from his Notre Dame commitment Monday night after spending time on USC's campus Sunday.

Four-star wide receiver recruit C.J. Williams made a visit to USC on Sunday just before the NCAA recruiting calendar shifted Monday to a dead period that prohibits in-person visits.

By Monday evening, Williams announced he was stepping away from his verbal commitment to Notre Dame. The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei product had been committed to the Irish since August.

The Trojans turned up the heat in recruiting Williams after head coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC. That coincided with head coach Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame for LSU.

USC has used its proximity to Williams to its advantage in hosting him each of the past two Sundays. New Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees visited Williams last week in an effort to keep him in the Irish class. UCLA has also been trying to make a late push for Williams.

Rivals ranks Williams as the No. 6 wide receiver and No. 46 overall in the 2022 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 10 wide receiver and No. 78 overall.

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The loss of Williams knocks Notre Dame's class down to 22 commitments with only a pair of wide receiver pledges: four-star recruit Tobias Merriweather and three-star recruit Amorion Walker. Notre Dame's class dropped from fifth to sixth in the national rankings from 247Sports and Rivals.

Merriweather, a 6-4, 180-pound senior from Camas (Wash.) Union, made an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend. He's set to sign with the Irish later this week.

Walker, a 6-3, 181-pound wideout from Ponchatoula (La.) High, is less of a sure thing. Though he's been committed since March, Walker has given attention to Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi State and LSU throughout the fall.

The Irish need to keep Walker in the class now more than ever. Signing only one wide receiver in the 2022 class could be a disaster for a roster that has no wide receivers in the current sophomore and junior classes.

Two freshman wide receivers played frequently in the 2021 season: Lorenzo Styles (16 catches for 208 yards) and Deion Colzie (4 catches for 67 yards). The other freshman wide receiver, Jayden Thomas, saw action in two games late in the season but did not record a catch.

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.