Dexter Williams broke around the left edge en route to a 38-yard touchdown during the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday. The big play marked something much smaller for the junior running back, who’s turned the past nine months into a personal rebuilding job following his arrest for marijuana possession last August.
Saturday was just another step in that.
Williams wasn’t suspended for the incident, but it did force a reboot of his Notre Dame career.
Williams was arrested on the night of Aug. 19 alongside safety Ashton White, receiver Kevin Stepherson, linebacker Te’von Coney and safety Max Redfield in a car travelling on US-31 south of campus. Redfield, who also faced a firearms charge, was kicked off the team while the four underclassmen faced internal discipline. Williams was the first of that group to speak to reporters, owning a mistake he hopes will reset his college career.
“I disappointed everyone. I just had to gain that respect back,” Williams said. “I think about it every day because that could have been my last chance being at Notre Dame and just playing football, period. It’s on my mind daily.
“I just continue to place myself around positive people and just continue to just stay positive.”
On Saturday, Williams finished with nine carries for 96 yards and that touchdown to lead all running backs in carries and yardage. Josh Adams finished with eight carries for 39 yards and a 25-yard score. Tony Jones Jr. went for eight carries and 45 yards.
Williams called the group a “three-headed monster” for this fall.
Williams can look ahead now after working his way back to level with the coaching staff and roster following that arrest. The junior said he lost credibility in the locker room but has been rebuilding it since. It’s why Saturday’s performance was part of a process more than proof of getting all the way back.
“I had to grow up a lot,” Williams said. “I had to gain the respect of my coaches, my teammates and also begin to work even harder. I know I let a lot of people down, let my family down, let my coaches down, let my teammates down and I just wanted to let them know that that won’t happen again … I will make the right decisions from here on out.
“Definitely I had to start over. I didn’t have a lot of people who trusted me.”
That’s changed since, including during spring ball when Williams missed time with a sprained ankle but played through the discomfort during this month’s closing workouts.
If there’s a debt Williams has left to pay, it appears he’s close to making his final deposit.
“I gained a lot of trust back from the coaches, my teammates as well,” Williams said. “I just constantly tell them to stay on me about everything. Don’t let me just take anything for granted. I just love how they’re taking me back in and continue to motivate me and continue to push me.
“I love who I’m becoming and I know I’m not done yet.”