• Name: Dexter Williams
• Height/Weight: 5-11, 195
• Position: Running back
• Hometown: Winter Garden, Fla.
• High School: West Orange
• Statistics: Rushed for 1,072 yards and three touchdowns on 179 carries as a junior at West Orange High School.
• Assets: A gifted, shifty runner with good vision for daylight and a decisive approach when the lane opens up. Accelerates up to and through the hole. A “frantic” running approach when the path to daylight appears.
Excellent give-and-take of the hips to the defender. Lulls a defender into thinking he’s zeroing in, and then takes it away. A traffic weaver with a nice forward lean and an effortless glide when he’s broken free.
Shows soft hands and nice agility adjusting to flat passes. Also offers the fundamental skill of switching the football, depending upon where the defensive pressures points are coming from.
• Room for improvement: Is said to have power-back skills, but at the slightest inkling of a head-up tackler, he widens his running path in an attempt to evade as opposed to powering through tackles. Not that he won’t lower his pads on contact, but he tries to avoid such situations. Also has a very loose grasp of the football, swinging it as low as his hip while in full stride.
• Schools of interest: Notre Dame. SEC: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M; Pac 12: USC; Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin; ACC: Louisville.
• The latest line: The once-committed Hurricane opened up his recruiting around New Year’s, and although the Hurricanes remain in the mix, Louisville (an October visit) and Texas A&M (Jan. 23) are in the competition, as is Notre Dame, where Williams will visit this weekend.
• ND’s 2015 tight end target number: Two
• ND’s 2015 running back recruiting: The list has been whittled down to four with a fifth – 6-foot-3, 215-pound Josh Adams (Warrington, Pa.) -- already on board. Hopes for a steal of Ronald Jones II slipped by the wayside the first weekend of January when he verbally committed to USC.
Notre Dame remains in the hunt for Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas), but the reality is that that ship likely has sailed to UCLA. Jordan Cronkrite (Palmetto Bay, Fla.) would be a great get for the Irish out of the Sunshine State, but West Virginia is looming large.
That leaves it down to Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Nashville, Tenn.) and Williams, both of whom will visit this weekend.
• ND’s 2015 running back depth chart: It’s a rather skimpy-looking depth chart heading into the spring following the graduation of Cam McDaniel. The Irish always have Amir Carlisle to turn back to if necessary, but he’s formed a nice one-two punch at Z receiver with C.J. Prosise.
Otherwise, it’s a two-man show in the spring of Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant with Josh Adams arriving this summer.
• Summary: With the need for a second running back, the Irish are in no position to be overly discriminating over the final three weeks of the recruiting campaign. Anyone of the remaining handful willing to jump on board will be given a boost onto the bandwagon by the Irish camp.
Every school would take any of the remaining names on the Irish running back recruit list. But it’s uncertain as to whether Williams is what Notre Dame needs at the position long-term. Granted, the Irish need another competent body at the running back position, and Williams is a home-run threat, particularly when he takes evasive action and becomes an east-west runner.
But for all the talk from various analysts of Williams running between the tackles, that’s his path of choice when it’s the clearest and hands-down the most fortuitous route to take. Otherwise, he’d prefer to banana-out his path wide and loop his way around defenders. He’ll need to be a more consistent runner heading in a straight path because although he’s fast, he’s not a blazer at 4.54. That outside path won’t be as easy to negotiate on the next level as it was at West Orange High School.
Again, that’s not to say the Irish should in any way veer off the path for Williams who, quite frankly, is a bit of a longshot. Credit Irish running backs coach Tony Alford for getting Williams to the campus this weekend. He is the reason Williams will be in South Bend. If the Notre Dame environment has a special appeal to him, maybe the Irish can strike a chord and turn him away from his southern gaze.
The fact that high school teammate/wide receiver Jalen Julius will join Williams in South Bend this weekend may create a positive situation for the Irish. Otherwise, the search for a running back will continue, most likely with fellow visitor Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Nashville, Tenn.), who still looks like Notre Dame’s best bet at running back heading into the weekend.