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Q&A With Kyren Williams: Notre Dame Career, Responding To Concerns Over 40-Yard Dash, Why He's a Complete RB

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams against North Carolina.

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 30: Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23) runs with the football during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the North Carolina Tar Heels on October 30, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, and yet, he still felt like he had something to prove heading into his pro day.

During the NFL Combine, Williams completed the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds. That time raised some concerns about his speed, albeit he had no issue getting past defenders at the collegiate level.

Williams certainly put some of those doubts to rest at his pro day, improving his 40-yard dash time to 4.54 seconds. Besides, speed has never been Williams’ best attribute. What makes him such an intriguing prospect is that he’s a true three-down running back. He can make plays in the run game, can catch the ball out of the backfield and is great at picking up the blitz.

We caught up with Kyren Williams to discuss his Notre Dame career, NFL Combine performance and much more.

The Spun: How has this draft process been for you?

Kyren Williams: It’s a unique experience, meeting with different coaches and learning their systems. Doing all that stuff is really fun. I just can’t wait for more meetings to come.

The Spun: What was your experience like at the NFL Combine?

KW: It was a dream come true being at the NFL Combine. I would watch it all the time growing up. It’s a different experience when you’re actually there. You have to go through a lot of different things before you actually get to perform. Like I said, it’s a unique experience and I’m blessed to be able to go through it.

The Spun: Some people were surprised by your time in the 40-yard dash. What would your response to that be?

KW: I’m a football player, not a track star. If you turn on the tape, you can see who I really am. You’ll see that I don’t get caught from behind and I have the speed to make things happen. I’ll definitely improve that time, but I’m not worried what people have to say about it.

The Spun: You’re considered one of the most complete running backs in this draft. What makes you so unique?

KW: My versatility makes me different. I can line up in the slot, I’m a natural pass catcher, and I make people miss in open space. I also bring that physicality in between the tackles. I can pass protect if you need me to. I check off every box.

The Spun: You brought up being a natural pass catcher. Where does that skill come from?

KW: In high school, I was a slot receiver before I played running back. My freshman year, we already had a senior running back. I played slot receiver midway through my sophomore year. Once they moved me to running back, it allowed me to really showcase my versatility.

The Spun: You had an excellent career at Notre Dame. What would be your favorite moment?

KW: I’d say the Clemson game, 100 percent.

The Spun: What was it like watching the fans storm the field during a pandemic?

KW: That’s right! When it first happened, I immediately ran to go find my mother and sister. I couldn’t find them, and then I turned around and saw everyone running onto the field. Just going through all that in the middle of the pandemic was something I won’t forget.

The Spun: How do you think Marcus Freeman will fare at Notre Dame?

KW: I think he’s going to be great for Notre Dame. He’s going to bring a different mindset and standard to Notre Dame. He has a very competitive mindset and brings out the best of us. I think the players will love playing for him.

The Spun: Which running backs do you watch on tape?

KW: I really like watching Christian McCaffrey. He’s a great athlete and he can make people miss in space. I also like watching Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara. Alvin also makes people miss in space and has tremendous contact balance.

The Spun: We’ve seen an uptick in rookie running back usage. Are you confident you’ll have a large role as a rookie?

KW: I’m excited for sure. I know nothing will come without work. I need to work for it. Whenever I find out where I’m going, I need to give that team my all from Day 1.

The Spun: What will it mean to you hearing your name called during the draft?

KW: It’s so crazy to even think about it. Everything I’ve dreamed for is right in front of my face. I’m going to cry for sure when I get drafted. Just seeing all the hard work pay off is amazing.

Over the course of his Notre Dame career, Kyren Williams had 2,153 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground. He also had 78 receptions for 675 yards.

Any team in need of a physical running back who can make plays in the passing game should have Williams on its radar heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.