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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams Trending Up & Brian Kelly High on Youth

September 1, 2020

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly refused to give Kyle Hamilton much recognition last fall as the freshman tore up fall camp. 

Kelly continued the joke on Tuesday as he spoke about the freshman All-American's growth, including as a leader in year two. 

"I didn't know Kyle Hamilton last year at this time," laughed Kelly. "You guys know that. He was a freshman that was emerging and he certainly made a big splash early on, but he's physically much more mature. He has a presence about him. He even has exhibited leadership qualities already in just a second year here. I would say night and day would be the best way to describe Kyle Hamilton. 

"Does that necessarily translate that he's going to be that much better of a football player? I don't know. We'll see what happens. But he certainly shows up in the scrimmages. He certainly shows up in 7-on-7. But I think off the field, physically he's stronger, and he has a presence about him in our program, and in particular of showing strong leadership capabilities."

On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore Kyren Williams looks to have all the momentum at running back as Kelly softly anointed him RB1 for now. 

"Kyren Williams has really emerged as somebody that we feel right now has gained an advantage as the top back right now," stated Kelly. "Now, he's going to require some assistance at that position from a number of other guys; we're not going to feature just one back. But Kyren's done a great job." 

Kelly also gave praise to junior tailback C'Bo Flemister while giving another endorsement to true freshman Chris Tyree. 

"Really like the way C'Bo Flemister has come on in the last 10 days, runs hard, runs low to the ground," Kelly explained. "Has shown a really, I think, great learning curve as it relates to protections and pass pro. Chris Tyree has been electric. He's been tougher than advertised. He's run physical for us as well." 

Two other veterans with experience are also coming along in recent weeks. 

Jahmir Smith has been out a little bit, but he's back today," said Kelly. "We'll get him more involved. Jafar Armstrong as well had a pretty good scrimmage on the weekend." 

Kelly also announced the addition of two more running backs as Osita Ekwonu moves from linebacker and Kendall Abdur-Rahman makes the move from receiver. 

"We moved Osita Ekwonu to running back and he's given us a pretty physical presence at that position," Kelly stated. "He's a big, strong kid who can go in there and really mix it up for us. We moved Kendal Abdur-Rahman there. He's been a pleasant surprise for us, his ability to see things and some really good vision and break some big plays for us.

"We're working about seven guys at the position and it's been a nice surprise for us." 

Notre Dame brought in a highly-touted defensive line class and two freshmen have started to emerge in Rylie Mills and Jordan Botelho. 

"All of them have done some pretty good things," Kelly explained. "I think the guy that probably stands out is Rylie Mills. He's ready to play this year. Really good pass rusher at his size, 6-foot-6. He's got some unique traits to him. He can make an impact—really good football player.

"Jordan Botelho, again, very twitchy, closes really well. Has got a good IQ for the game. Those two guys have really stood out and could play some football for us this year."

Aidan Keanaaina and Alexander Ehrensberger also got some praise, but Kelly feels they might be a little further away from cracking into the rotation. 

"I think Aidan and Alex are more in the developmental stages," said Kelly. "They're coming on. They're doing some really good things, but they also have some guys in front of them, in particular, where Rylie and Alex at the 3 (3-tech) and the Vyper give themselves a better chance of getting on the field than Aiden and Alex.

"So, Rylie and certainly Jordan have really done a nice job for us."

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