Brian Kelly Offers Little Clarification on Status of Dexter Williams

Brian Kelly knew the question was coming yesterday.  It was only a matter of when.  “What is the status of Dexter Williams for week one” has been one of the most talked about topics of the off-season for Notre Dame.  For months it’s been rumored and inuendoed that Williams is facing a similar “suspension” to that of Kevin Stepherson last year.  On Thursday, Brian Kelly offered little in terms of clarity on Williams’s status.

“He’s going to be, you know, on our roster,” Kelly said when asked if Williams will be available week one.  “We’ll see who — who ends up playing against Michigan, but he’s on our football team and I’m really proud of what he’s accomplished in the summer,” he would go on to add.

That is really neither a confirmation or a denial of a suspension.  Now, it is important to note here that Kelly legally cannot comment on any disciplinary action, due to privacy laws.  So, perhaps his answers was merely him doing his best to skirt the topic without breaking and laws or lying to the media.

At this time last year the same exact speculation was running rampant regarding then sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson.  It was rumored for months that Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the year.  Kelly never confirmed the suspension, but Stepherson was running with the third team receivers all fall camp long – a clear indication that Stepherson was not in line for real action in the early weeks of the season.

The one stark contrast here is in how Kelly described Williams’s off-season.  “Really, the best summer that he’s had since he’s been here,” Kelly said.  “He’s put on eight to ten pounds. His volume is up in terms of his ability to sustain his cardiovascular at a high level. He can go. He struggled with that at times last year. He’s physically fit, in great shape. He’s in the best position that he’s been and he’s going to help our football team next year,” Kelly said of his senior running back yesterday.

Now contrast that to what Kelly was saying about Stepherson at the end of August last summer just eight days before the season opener.

“We’re not going to put you in a competitive situation – or on the field – based on your talent.  You have to exhibit the traits that we’re developing in our players,” he said.  “Those traits are coming along, he’s making progress.  But his attention to detail, his focus – all of the traits we require all of our players to have – he’s working on and he’s getting better.  When he exhibits all those traits, he’ll find himself on the field.”

So while Kelly did not offer much in terms of a confirmation or denial of any suspension for Dexter Williams yesterday, he was much more effusive in his praise of Williams than he ever was of Stepherson last season.

What will be interesting to see if where Williams lines up in the pecking order at running back today and through the rest of camp.  If Williams is first or second, it would be shocking if he didn’t play in the opener.  If Williams is running fourth behind say Tony Jones Jr, converted wide receiver Jafar Armstrong, and either of the freshmen (C’Bo Flemister or Jahmir Smith) we will have our answer – even if we never hear the words from Kelly.

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  1. As I’ve said before, someone will show up to run the ball for Old Notre Dame. Someone always has. But we’ve had injuries (when you are rushing for more yardage than ARA teams, you are going to need depth.) So we really need two or three, even if we don’t run any two back sets at all, which seems unlikely with Long.

    The “O” line has Mustipher, and more experience than people think. We’ll be fine.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. We can toss around — speculate on the Dexter Williams soap opera. Whether he plays or not versus Michigan, Irish better be ready/prepared on next man in September 1st. Can Tony Jones Jr. carry a load comparable to Josh Adams ? As Ndcrazymike mentions –can Jones break – away in the secondary ? Next up is Jafar Armstrong. This kid’s first game at running back is not against Ball State –but rather a Michigan D rated in top 5 in college football. May the Saint’s of Ireland be with him! Next up in the running back stable is freshmen Jahmir Smith and C’B Flemister. Hopefully these young kids are getting plenty of reps in fall practice–they might be called upon to spot Jones/Armstrong on occasion. I know things look bleak without Dexter Williams–but I’m anxious to see new blood out there–see what they can do without Williams. Who knows maybe one of the new RB’s will surprise with a few long gainers. O-Line is new too —let’s hope they open up holes and can protect Wimbush to get passes to receivers. Wimbush is the “veteran” now of the RB’s and O-Line—gonna need his leadership/confidence to take team down field. One more thing — include Wimbush in stable of running backs. Go Irish

  3. by the way…I think a short documentary on Rockne’s series with Big Ten teams, and his series with Nebraska, the only team that continually gave him trouble, is long overdue. Seriously.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  4. We are a little overdue for a national Championship. But, like the Scouts always be prepared. We are also overdue for a Notre Dame movie. The two best football films of all time, Knute Rockne All American and Rudy. This next movie could put special emphasis on the Notre Dame fan. Bruce Gregory Curme could play the lead. Duranko in supporting role. David as the antagonist. Special appearance from SFR who only surfaces on game day. And my humble self in Oscar winning performance as the voice for the Rock from the heavens.

    1. And a few others, especially Burgie for brief commentary. The narrator perhaps? But I am too flawed a person both physiologically, both mind and bodily, and morally flawed, for Hollywood to make much use of. I would have to decline. (Hell, even the army has me unfit for service under any conditions!!! In 1980 it functioned to keep me out…a perverse reverse of Catch 22). It’s impossible to make me out to be a hero…not even an anti-hero…it neither could, nor should, ever work. But it’s a hilarious idea, Greg.

      BGC ’77 ’82

    2. Sounds like a great idea GREG!! BGC and DURANKO in the roles of a lifetime!!! Sounds like PICTURE OF THE YEAR MATERIAL!! OBTW the part of davey can b played by JOE PESHI ( little annoying weasel ) who at the end of the movie admits he loves BK and cries when BK gives him an autograph!!

      1. NDCM,
        A nephew of mine “ Fast Eddie” from the picture Little Giants and a super duper Notre Dame fan was the center in this movie. When I first saw the film He ran real fast, then someone told me, “ hey stupid that’s his double” Joe would be great as Dave, cocky, arrogant all the qualifications. We could get product placements to do the funding; Guinness, Paddy’s Whiskey. I see a parallel with the Four Horsemen in a comedic translation from the past to the future. Curme, Duranko, Crazy Mike and yes, no less than Davey actually mounting a horse. The film would start out with Davey in his basement surfing the net to see where he would fit in. He finds UHND. True to his snarly self, Davey falls off his horse and has time to reflect on his defeatist ways. He learns to love and respect Notre Dame like none other. Joe earns The Oscar for His performance.

  5. Lets hope for the best, we need WILLIAMS every game!! What he lacks in blocking and receiving doesn’t take away from the fact that he is our best ” RUNNING BACK ” with breakaway speed!! NO other back so far has shown that! But I do get the feeling ( like Stepherson ) somethings not right and worry if he will play in the first 4 games. If he does not lets hope for a big lift from ARMSTRONG and DAVIS till he returns. TONY JONES JR may start but he seems to lack the breakaway speed and so far cant seem to stay healthy ( banged up a lot last year just playing part time )! GO IRISH!!! GO O-LINE!! GO RBS!!

    1. He has excellent balance while accelerating. When he stumbles, or changes directions, usually near top speed, he never seems to fall.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  6. It is hard to tell if Williams will play against Michigan, but it sounds like Kelly has him as (at least) an option. It never sounded, or as Greg has noted again and again, looked like Stepherson was going to be an option last year. There is a definite tone difference. Coach Kelly can be a strict, no-nonsense disciplinarian when a player messes up in certain ways. But he can also give a player a “second chance” if he is satisfied with what the guy said and did after some mess ups – Tillery is a wonderful example of that. A fair chunk of the fanbase thought Tillery was done after some on-field behavior that bordered on being taboo in college football by players and (most) coaches alike. I thought so myself for awhile. But for whatever reason, Kelly gave him another shot, and the kid ran with it, parlaying it into an possible first or second team AA season this year. Second chances are great things, and good things in life for a lot of people. They are also pointless wastes of time for a few guys – Stepherson and Redfield come to mind. I hope Williams gets a shot on the big stage against Michigan…I think he’ll “run with it” (pun intended) if he gets that shot 4 weeks from now. And anyway, we don’t know how serious (or how routine) his transgression is, do we? Or even if there is a transgression at all…it could be something with technique, or past effort, in the coach’s opinion. Who knows at this point? In any event: (1) I trust Coach Kelly’s judgement based on past practice, whether or not Williams plays before the Stanford game, and (2) even if Williams will play against Michigan, I don’t see any advantage in announcing that publicly to Michigan before the game…do you? What would be gained by that?

    BGC ’77 ’82

  7. Williams is certainly an enigma. There seems to be talent there. He seems like someone that can contribute and sometimes does. Then there are times he sits on the bench for no real discernible reason. Is he in the dog house? Did he violate team or school rules in some way? Did he have a bad practice? Is he hurt?

    Of all the players in recent years for him there does not seem to be any clear cut answer. I realize there are things the coaches can’t discuss. But when other players were benched we generally find out or at least suspect the reason (academic reasons, they got arrested, they’re not playing well). In Williams’ case it’s much harder to pin it down.

    1. Agree, Damian.

      And what makes it all worse is that Williams is a special talent and game changer yet we all don’t know in these last 3 years what the heck has been going on there. All we know is the kid ran for 9 yards a carry last year and I think we all want him on the freakin field!! The craziest mystery of all was not one single touch in the GA game. What!?

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