Williams was one of five Notre Dame players suspended last year for academic dishonesty, along with wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, safety Eilar Hardy, linebacker Kendall Moore and cornerback KeiVarae Russell. Only Hardy returned to play for the Fighting Irish last season; Russell has been cleared to play this season, but Kelly could not say why Russell is allowed to play while Williams is not aside from there being differing circumstances.
Kelly said at a press conference last October that he believed Williams and Russell would return to the team.
Notre Dame re-admitted Williams to the university in June, but he was still awaiting clearance from the NCAA to participate in football. The Irish also would have had to make room for him on the roster.
Williams will not be allowed to practice, but will remain on scholarship. This season would have exhausted his final year of eligibility.
A five-star defensive end out of Lincoln (N.Y.) High in 2011, Williams played in 35 games over his three seasons at Notre Dame and recorded 45 tackles (six for loss), one sack and one forced fumble.
Notre Dame enters the season ranked No. 4 by Sports Illustrated and No. 11 in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. The Fighting Irish begin the season Sept. 5 vs. Texas.
- Mike Fiammetta