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Notre Dame Football

Kyren Williams Becoming the Heart & Soul of Notre Dame's Offense

April 27, 2021

Kyren Williams is built for this. 

The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder became a household name over the course of the 2020 season and now it’s time to lead the Notre Dame program. 

Guiding a young offensive line has been his first task and while thing haven’t gone completely smooth, Williams remains positive Notre Dame is headed in the right direction in the run game. 

“It's not any pressure at all,” Williams stated. “It's more of me being a leader and showing them the steps to get to where they want to be so we don’t have a fall off from where we were at last year. 

"I think we're headed in a great direction with the offensive line. The young guys have really come in and shown us and the coaches that they can really play and compete at a high level. I know I'm excited and I can't wait for us to keep on going after spring ball into fall camp to see where everybody is at and competing at." 

The emergence of early enrollees Blake Fisher and Rocco Spindler has been the talk of the spring, but the moving pieces along the line have also been a hot topic. 

And Williams sees light at the end of the tunnel as the Irish wrap up spring ball this week. 

"I see progress,” said Williams. “There's never a day we go backward. We're always moving forward and we're trying to get one percent better. I think if we stay with that mentality and swagger as an offense, we'll be able to pick up this thing where we left off.” 

As for the early enrollees, Williams has also been impressed. 

"Blake and Rocco came in and showed they can play at this high level,” Williams explained. “They showed they can compete and they have the heart and effort to do that. There's definitely a lot more learning they have to do. They're still young. They're early enrollees and I bet everything is still fast for them. 

"They need to keep working and progressing to get to where they want to be. The sky is the limit for them." 

Williams also is making sure he challenges his childhood friend, Jordan johnson, who is going through his first spring. 

The two have known each other since elementary school as they played little league together and Williams knows he can push the soon-to-be sophomore receiver.  

“I look at him as a little brother,” said Williams. “I'm always trying to help him get to where he wants to be. He's had a great spring. He has to keep working on the little details of everything, but that just comes with being a wide receiver. You're never going to be perfect. He knows he has to keep working and come fall camp, it's time for him to really excel and get to where he wants to be as a player." 

Last fall, Williams ran for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 35 receptions for 313 yards and another score.

Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees admitted last week he was moving Williams and Chris Tyree around the field and that’s more than fine with the St. Louis native. 

"I think it gives me the ability to really showcase who I am as a player,” Williams said. “I'm just a running back. I consider myself an athlete and really just a ballplayer. I can play outside, inside, the backfield and Chris and I can split it. With that ability, it really allows me to be out there and it doesn't allow teams to really key on one person. It allows us to open the field up and the playbook up as well. 

"This spring has been fun getting back into the groove of being a wide receiver and playing in the slot again. I know what the workload looks like and I know what has to be done every day to get where I want to be. I'm going to keep going for it with this challenge to get to where I want to be." 

Williams does know what it takes to be one of the best in college football and it starts with knowing there is more for him to do. Creating explosive plays has been the focus of the offseason and Williams knows it starts with him being better once he gets into the open field. 

"I have to be more consistent at the second-level,” stated Williams. “Everybody knows I can break you down. I can make you miss, but I feel like I have to do that every single time I get to the second level. Last year, that's what stopped me from having those explosive runs - those 80-yard runs. It's that last second, second-level defender that I don't see." 

That said, Williams doesn’t feel his vision is a weakness. In fact, Williams believes his vision is elite. 

"I think I got the best vision in college football,” Williams said. “I feel I've always had that vision. My dad has told me since I was little that I've had the best vision that he's seen. I know I have to keep working. There's nothing I'm perfect at. My vision on the football field - keep on excelling in that and seeing new holes and really just leave people like, "How'd he even see that.'

"That's my goal as a running back - to leave people wondering and guessing how he was able to make that cut. Just doing those things and being consistent every day has allowed me to get my vision better." 

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