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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 23 Kyren Williams, early-enrolled freshman running back


Listed Measurements: 5-foot-9, 209 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Williams has all four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: His January arrival put Williams into the mix to be Notre Dame’s No. 3 running back. At the moment, sophomore Jahmir Smith has the edge in that competition, but not by so much as to rule out Williams or sophomore C’Bo Flemister catching him in the preseason.
Recruiting: The three-star chose the Irish over finalists of Michigan and his homestate Missouri, also holding offers from the likes of Wisconsin and Stanford.

After taking six carries for 22 yards and a score with two catches for 10 more yards in Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold Game in April, Williams had made it clear he should be in the contributing conversation this fall.

“Kyren is a physical back for his size,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. “He’s a powerful kid, over 200 pounds. Runs low to the ground, catches the ball well. Pretty talented back.”

“It has been awhile since Notre Dame had a running back of Williams’ height (or lack thereof), but it was just two cycles ago Irish head coach Brian Kelly said he was on the lookout for more Darren Sproles types. Williams could fit into that role, an interesting fit for offensive coordinator Chip Long to deploy.

“... Notre Dame’s last two seasons have illustrated how vital running back depth is. Williams should still not see much playing time in 2019, but he will need to prepare as if he will, beginning with his early enrollment next month.”

It may be too simple to describe Williams as a fast bowling ball, but watching him in the Blue-Gold Game, that was the lasting impression. He should have been daydreaming through a high school civics course in March and April, but he was instead exhibiting the physicality necessary to compete at the collegiate level.

That ability should put Williams in position for playing time as a freshman, though limited. Consider a year ago, when Smith and Flemister were no higher than fourth on the depth chart. Each appeared in two games, combining for eight total touches. That may not seem like much, but they were behind three established players on the depth chart. (Well, two, but Jafar Armstrong became a known entity the first week of the season.) Neither was as obviously ready then as Williams is now, and he is behind only two proven ball carriers.

Williams may not play in more than four games, but given the likelihood of injury at the position, the Irish will need the freshman to be ready.

Projecting running backs to take chances on themselves at the next level earlier than expected is logical; the wear-and-tear of the position requires they roll those dice, as C.J. Prosise did after one strong year, as Tarean Folston did with injuries still in his rearview mirror, and as Josh Adams did with records within his reach. Thus, it would be a surprise if Notre Dame returned both senior Tony Jones and junior Jafar Armstrong in 2020. Frankly, it might not have either.

That will put Smith, Flemister and Williams into the spotlight in some order, despite the arrival of four-star running back Chris Tyree. In the long run, Tyree will factor into the running back depth chart, but not necessarily from the immediate outset. At least one of the awaiting trio will have a chance to prove himself as a bellcow before Tyree starts.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Isaiah Foskey, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
No. 35: TaRiq Bracy, sophomore cornerback
No. 35: Marist Liufau, Hawaiian freshman linebacker
No. 34: Jahmir Smith, sophomore running back
No. 34: Osita Ekwonu, inside linebacker, consensus four-star
No. 33: Shayne Simon, sophomore linebacker
No. 31: Jack Lamb, sophomore linebacker
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, junior linebacker
No. 29: Ovie Oghoufo, sophomore linebacker-turned-defensive end
No. 27: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 25: Braden Lenzy, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 24: Tommy Tremble, sophomore tight end
No. 24: Jack Kiser, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Mr. Indiana Football
No. 23: Litchfield Ajavon, four-star safety, freshman