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Notre Dame Football

Wide receiver Cam Williams, a five-star talent with plenty of room to grow

February 3, 2024
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Cam Williams, who was rated a five-star prospect until recently, enrolled early at Notre Dame as one of the highest-ranked receivers in the country. 

He’s perhaps the most talented wideout to sign with the Fighting Irish since Michael Floyd in 2008. 

“I don’t know if Cam was maybe a five-star when he committed,” coach Marcus Freeman said on National Signing Day. “I don’t know when he became one, but the thing that attracted us to Cam was his speed. When we’ve said, ‘Hey, we need to address speed. We want to continue to enhance our speed on the outside on both sides of the ball.’ That was a thing with Cam.”

Of course, his metrics are off the charts. The Notre Dame staff witnessed the 6-2 teenager run multiple 40-yard dashes in the 4.4-second range. He was also one of the top long jumpers in the nation, with a personal best of 24 feet and 3.75 inches.

Now on campus, all the pomp and circumstance from his recruitment has little bearing on how successful he’ll be in South Bend. 

Sure, his size, strength and speed are all major advantages that enabled him to dominate at the prep level, but that’ll only get him so far in college if he doesn’t improve substantially as a route runner. 

“I can accept as a route runner, I know I need work,” Williams said. “It's easy to just run straight as fast as you can and catch the ball.”

Currently, he tends to round off his routes, which will give cornerbacks like Ben Morrison and Jaden Mickey a chance to catch up to him or cut underneath him to make a play on the ball. Williams is also still learning to use his broad frame to shield smaller defenders.

“That's just the truth behind it,” Williams said. “So, it's little stuff, but it's really big stuff.”

He moved onto campus about a month ago and is already a regular in the Irish Athletic Center, working diligently to improve his weaknesses. 

Williams has quickly developed a rapport with rising sophomores Jordan Faison and Jaden Greathouse, picking their ears about school, life and football. 

Each managed to find a significant role with the Fighting Irish offense in 2023 — a feat Williams would also love to accomplish as a freshman this fall. 

The twitchy Faison finished with 19 catches for 322 yards and four touchdowns in the season's final seven games, earning a full ride from the football team after initially walking on as a lacrosse player.

Williams likely doesn’t see much of himself in the 5-10 Faison outside of similar straight-line speed, but he still tries to emulate how Faison and other shorter receivers move.

“I will kind of watch smaller receivers, how quickly, how much easier they're able to kind of navigate themselves,” Williams said.

On the other hand, Greathouse possesses a similar size to Williams, but with one key difference: Greathouse knows how to use his body type to his advantage thanks to a refined route tree. That’s how he snagged a team-high five receiving touchdowns last fall despite a nagging hamstring injury. 

“It's smooth. It's not choppy,” Williams said of Greathouse. “He gets out of the break quickly. Sometimes, it doesn't even look like he breaks down and stops. He's just smooth throughout the entire route.

“I'm someone who maybe has to take more time to sink and get out the break.”

Williams’ commitment to addressing the deficiencies in his game should excite new Notre Dame wide receiver coach Mike Brown, who replaced Chansi Stuckey in December. 

Stuckey was Williams’ primary recruiter, but the former five-star prospect already knew Brown well. He believes he’ll polish his skills under a coach with his reputation and teaching acumen. Under Brown's tutelage at Cincinnati, former low-tier three-star prospects Alec Pierce and Tre Tucker turned into Day 2 NFL Draft picks. 

“We had a relationship when he was at Cincinnati and a little bit of Wisconsin,” Williams said, “and I knew how good of a dude and coach he was prior, so I was fully comfortable. I kind of let the other guys in the class know, Logan (Saldate) and Micah (Gilbert), that we're in good hands.”

Williams believes Brown is already significantly impacting the entire wide receiver room. 

“We can all accept that this entire room has changed and needs change,” Williams said, “and we all want to be part of that change. I know we're going to hold each other accountable. We've already got a great bond going, so that should be no issue.”

Of course, Williams will only learn so much from spending time around Coach Brown and teammates Greathouse and Faison.

It’ll be up to him to put in the daily effort required to achieve the on-the-field success most expect from a five-star talent like himself.

He must do so while navigating a rigorous courseload and the inevitable highs and lows that come from playing for one of the top college football programs in the nation. 

Williams’ college career is still in its infancy, but he seems up for the challenge.

“It's work. It's definitely not a walk in the park,” he said. “Now, I’ve got to be 100% in the weight room and then walk my way to class and be 100% there. I knew that coming in, but I think it'd be hard to say that not all of us once we got here, to be able to do both of those at the same levels, been kind of like a shock but manageable.”

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