Jhonathon Williams didn't want to stray far from his family.
In the end, the was enough to convince the three-star pass rusher to officially flip his commitment from Missouri to Notre Dame on Wednesday morning with a call into Irish head coach Brian Kelly. Williams alerted offensive coordinator and area recruiter Chuck Martin what was coming the night before.
"They were pretty excited," Williams said. "Coach Kelly said congratulations and told me to keep doing what I've been doing and be ready."
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound athlete from Berrien Springs, Mich., about an half hour north of South Bend, becomes Notre Dame's 19th verbal commitment and a pure cat linebacker prospect. His commitment boosted Notre Dame to eighth in the Rivals.com team rankings.
Under the radar during the recruiting process, Williams has played just two seasons of football full time after growing up as a basketball prospect. He earned mostly MAC offers last summer before Missouri extended a scholarship.
Then Williams posted 69 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, three pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one blocked kick as a senior.
Notre Dame offered a week ago and hosted Williams for the home finale against BYU. That proximity to home helped get the Irish over the top.
Williams grew up in a single parent home with his mother working at the local police department, often working nights. That's forced Williams to help care for his younger brother Calvin.
"Since I was about 12 I've been the man of the house," Williams said. "This was a really big decision and I need to support my family. It's not in their best interest for me to just up and leave. It's about their security and them being safe if something happens."
Williams said he may return for Notre Dame's for the season-ending awards ceremony on Dec. 13 if possible. He's also a standout basketball player at Berrien Springs High School.
Beyond the distance from home, Notre Dame impressed Williams with both its roster and its coaching staff last weekend. He spent time with Torii Hunter Jr. and Jesse Bongiovi off the field while watching Prince Shembo on it.
"I really loved the team atmosphere and the family environment," Williams said. "I have the utmost respect for Missouri and appreciate everything they've done. I didn't wish that it worked out this way, but it's just not the best decision for me to leave my family."