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Notre Dame’s human highlight reel the last two years, Kyren Williams drafted by the Los Angeles Rams

North Carolina v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - OCTOBER 30: Kyren Williams #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball for a 91 yard touchdown during the fourth quarter in the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Notre Dame Stadium on October 30, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

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Notre Dame’s offensive catalyst the last two years, running back Kyren Williams has been drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the fifth round with the No. 164 overall pick.

As much of a star as he was with the Irish, hearing Williams fall to the fifth round may be a surprise to some, but frankly, that is the modern reality for a running back, particularly one measuring only 5-foot-9 and 194 pounds with only moderate speed.

But Williams’ 2,153 career rushing yards demanded some notice, and he got it. Williams finished his Notre Dame career with 2,828 total yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns, none more memorable than his 65-yard dash on the first official play from scrimmage in the Irish double-overtime upset of No. 1 Clemson in 2020.

That was part of a breakout sophomore season for Williams, after a dropped pass in the 2019 season opener essentially benched him for the remainder of his freshman campaign. That led to some admitted personal doubts from Williams, but he doubled down that offseason.

His final Notre Dame carry was a 12-yard touchdown in the last minute at Stanford, turning a 21-point blowout into a four-touchdown romp for no reason other than he could. Well, there may have been more reason than that, given he spent the final few plays of that possession visibly urging the coaching staff to hurry things up. Williams needed 10 more yards to become the fifth Irish player to crack 1,000 yards rushing in back-to-back seasons, and that final touchdown scamper got him to 1,002 yards on the season. Four of Notre Dame’s final five plays on that drive were handoffs to Williams.

Williams then opted out of the Fiesta Bowl to begin focusing on the NFL draft, but only ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in early March. He rebounded with a 4.54-second showing at Notre Dame’s Pro Day at the end of that month, but all times that day were later questioned as a bit generous.

Regardless, Williams’ opinion of the 40-yard dash probably held more merit than his time.

“I don’t think I’ll be running another 40 in football or anywhere else,” he said in March. “I left it all on the table.”

Williams is the highest former Irish running back drafted since C.J. Prosise went No. 90 overall in 2016.

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