Most Notre Dame fans will remember former running backs coach Tony Alford for his recruiting and the one recruit that people will always remember him getting a commitment from is Louis Nix.
Charlie Weis had been let go and Alford continued to recruit for Notre Dame even though a head coach had not yet been hired. He got a commitment from an Under Armour All-American when there was no head coach at Notre Dame. It's not selling a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves, but it's not far off.
The last recruit that Tony Alford helped sign at Notre Dame was Dexter Williams. He did an impressive job recruiting him, but not quite as impressive as the job he did with Nix. In a few years though, it wouldn't be a shocking to say that Williams was the most important recruit Alford helped sign with the Irish.
With only two scholarship running backs returning for next season, the Irish needed to sign two running backs in the 2015 recruiting class. They had numerous names on their board throughout the process and Williams was one of the final options left standing out of those options. I don't know if any recruit can be classified as a must-get, but Williams was pretty darn close to that level.
Aside from the need for depth at the position, Williams was needed for another reason. It's been a long time since Notre Dame has had someone who was a consistent homerun hitter from the running back position. The last player who I can remember that was a consistent threat to score every time he touched the ball was Julius Jones back in 2003. (To remind anyone of how long ago that was if you're a Notre Dame fan, there were some people who still considered Tyrone Willingham a good college football coach at that time.)
Cierre Wood could have been that guy for Notre Dame and certainly flashed that kind of potential with his long touchdowns vs Oklahoma and Wake Forest, but he was never really the consistent presence that a lot of Notre Dame fans wanted him to be.
Williams has the potential to be the kind of threat that Jones was every time he touched the football. He has big time speed, great feet, and most importantly, the kind of burst that allows him to get to full speed in just a couple of steps.
Here's a couple of examples of what I'm referring to. This first one is from his senior season:
The hole the play is designed to go through is clogged, but his feet are so quick that he is able to adjust and get outside. From there, that acceleration is ridiculous. That's a 5 yard gain at best for most backs even if they can make that initial cut and Williams takes that to the house.
This next one is from his junior season:
That first cut is awesome. The next one at the second level? Even better. He has awesome lateral agility to allow him to make people miss and then that burst to make the defense pay for missing tackles on him.
Williams shouldn't just be considered the "second running back in this class". He's a composite top 100 player for a reason.
Of course, he'll need to develop other parts of his game. He wasn't asked to catch the ball out of the backfield very often and I'm sure he'll need to learn to pass block better like every other young back. He'll also need to get bigger and stronger, just like every other eighteen year old on the planet.
But that speed and that acceleration is uncommon. Very few backs have that and it's what makes me so excited to see him develop in Brian Kelly's/Mike Sanford's offense.
Out of all the touchdowns and big runs I saw from Williams' junior and senior year, nothing impressed me more than this last clip of him chasing down a defender after an interception.
He runs from the other side of the field and saves a sure touchdown with pure hustle. Not to get all Jon Gruden on everyone, but that is a football player.
Notre Dame fans only really got a glimpse of Julius Jones because of his academic issues and the fact that he didn't see extensive playing time when he came back to ND until after he emerged with a record-breaking game against Pitt. He added two other 200 yard games that season and no one has seen a back as consistently explosive as him in South Bend since.
Williams has the potential to remind people of the kind of runs that Jones had in 2003. If he does, I'll be more than happy to thank Tony Alford for the work he put in recruiting him, even if he is working for that guy in Columbus.