Dominic Williams (© Greg Powers)

Signing Day Recap - Running Back

Taking another look at National Signing Day 2017, position by position, continuing with the running backs.

There's likely not a position group, or a specific commit, that had Kansas fans more excited than Dominic Williams at running back.

Then out of nowhere, a Signing Day surprise emerged with Octavius Matthews, a speedy JUCO transfer who had just decommitted from Auburn.

There's production to replace from the Jayhawk backfield, but the staff is confident Williams and Matthews are up for the challenge.

The final KU two-deep depth chart at running back featured one senior, one junior, one sophomore and a freshman. Yes, there were four guys listed on the 'two-deep,' but Kansas coach David Beaty used them all.

Departing senior Ke’aun Kinner was the most productive, gaining 764 yards on 140 carries as he reached the end zone three time. He also caught 19 passes for 179 yards.

Sophomore Taylor Martin made an impact, taking his 91 carries for 335 yards and four scores. He caught six passes for 45 yards and one touchdown. Junior Denzell Evans and freshman Khalil Herbert combined for just a little more than 200 yards rushing in 2016.

With the addition of Williams and Matthews, Beaty will have plenty of options in 2017.

Dom Williams - RB - 5-10, 190 / McKinney, Texas - Independence High School

Beaty on Williams: "Most of you guys know him. Dom has been committed to us for over a year and a half, 16 months. Man, there's so many great kids in this class. This kid is the one that I've got to take my hat off to more than any because of what he's done to build this class. To really draw attention to the Jayhawk Nation and really what we're trying to do here. He stuck with this when people came knocking every day. Every day there was somebody big coming to knock on his door. But he believed in it, he saw the vision, and he knows what's going on here. Not only that, he's dang good. This dude can roll, now, and he can run. He's got terrific ball skills and a true back that can do a lot of things. One of the most productive guys in a very difficult league. You see him playing almost all of their games there. This guys side-to-side movement and acceleration is exceptional. Not only that, his ability to break tackles. He can do it in any and all ways.

"I love his vision. I love the way that he finds a way to get to the end zone. He reminds me a little bit of the Cowboys guy because of his ability to accelerate and get to the edge fast. Like when he sees a hole, he can get there and that thing doesn't close on him. Another thing he does is makes effortless cuts like here that makes a huge difference to the end of that run. Not everybody can do that. This guy will be a guy we will circle for a long time as one of the stars in his class. I really feel like if he'll continue to be the kid he is, which I know he will, because I know his mom and his dad, Damian, one of the funniest dudes we've ever had come around here, but also a legend now in Lawrence after he came for his visit. That family has been terrific for us. We're just so happy that they are finally Jayhawks, and he's going to be lining up in the back field, and we're going to be handing him the ball a lot. Fired up about that dude a lot."

Octavius Matthews -RB - 6-1, 200 / Stevenson, Alabama - North Jackson HS 

Beaty on Matthews: "I don't know a lot of people knew about this guy until today. And that's because we had to battle all the way until today to get him. I would consider this one of the biggest victories that we've had in this class because we had to battle some big time places to get him all the way to the end.

"Very good-looking dude now. All right. Played with Peyton Bender at Itawamba Community College. And terrific mama, Miss Kristy. We talked to her today. She's in the hospital. She needs a heart transplant. She's a sweet, sweet lady, but she is tough, boy, and she'll put a knot on his head if he doesn't listen. She's just a sweetheart. I wanted to give her a shout out. She's in the hospital right now awaiting a heart transplant. But, man, you talk about a terrific kid. Man, a guy that obviously the schools we were competing against, we weren't the only ones that thought that. But we took him because of what we thought, not what they thought.

"We like what he can do. You're going to see him lined up in the back field a lot. But he's more of a utility guy. This guy can lineup in the slot. He can lineup in the two-back set and motion out of the slot. This guy has terrific ball skills. He catches the ball well out of the back field or lined up at receiver. We can do a lot of things with this guy that's not easy to do with a lot of dudes. He'll get lined up in the back field a lot here, but he also lines up a lot out wide. He's got that top end speed that you're looking for. He's got that playmaking ability, and he has familiarity with the guy that played quarterback with him this year that might be able to pay dividends for him. He's a long guy, so he's a great target.

"One of the things that we really liked about this guy is we could line him up in the back field, but we could also be in the two-back set and be in four wides to the defense, because he's a guy that can line up out there in the wideout spot on more than just some occasions. We think he can do a lot for us. He's got good lateral cut vision. He's got great vision, and he's got some speed to burn, which is something I really like about this kid. Terrific guy. Not only is he a good player, but a terrific kid. Very well-spoken guy. Comes from Alabama. Just a terrific family we met down there."


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