Dexter Williams walks off the field for the last time as a member of the Fighting Irish, December 29, 2018. (Photo: Phil Houk/Fighting Irish Preview)

As a high school football star in Orlando Florida, Dexter Williams had to deal with near tragic adversity when he came close to losing his mom to a rare autoimmune disease.  When Dexter was just 14 years old, Cheryl Williams lapsed into a coma and did not regain consciousness for three long months. Dexter was deeply impacted by this experience, an experience that seemingly forged a iron bond with his mom.

A few years later, in 2015, Williams headed to South Bend after a stellar high school career running the football.

He arrived in the same recruiting class as Josh Adams. And while Adams had an impact immediately, it took Williams, who overall had been rated as one of the top 100 prospects in the country some time to adapt to the college game.

In his freshman season he logged just 21 carries for 81 yards and one TD while CJ Procise and Josh Adams were setting records for the Irish.

But the buzz around Williams was strong and in his Sophomore year he started to show some of his promise when he broke away for a 59-yard TD in a game against Syracuse. For that season in spot duty he gained 200 yards and scored 3 TDs.

Next, in 2017, the Josh Adams show continued but Williams showed more flashes of great things to come.  He carried the ball just 39 times but gained 360 yards for an impressive 9.2 yard per carry average.  Williams scored 4 TDs that year including one from 66 yards out.

Josh Adams headed to the NFL and the way was then cleared for playing time for Williams in 2018. Unfortunately a disciplinary matter kept Williams off the field for the first four games.  It was at that point that Cheryl Williams, who was facing more health problems, wanted to support her son during a tough time, so she moved to South Bend and into Dexter’s apartment on the edge of campus. 

The arrangement seemed to have a positive impact on Williams, and many of his teammates. The Williams abode became the go to place for chicken parm dinners and Cheryl’s motherly advice. Then, when Dexter finally got back on the field in week five against Stanford, he could not have played much better.

On his first carry, Williams broke through a hole created by Quinton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey and went 45 yards for a touchdown.  He finished that first day back with 161 yards on the ground.

As the Irish rolled through the regular season to the College Football Playoff, Williams was steady and frequently spectacular.  His 97-yard TD against Virginia Tech is the second longest in school history, and in that game, Williams totaled 178 yards and 3 TDs.  Against Florida State he rushed for 202 yards and scored twice.

Despite missing the four games, Williams finished his final season with 995 rushing yards and 13 total TDs. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry. And all along his mom Cheryl was prominent in her support for her son.

After his final game Williams declared for the NFL draft and he went to the Green Bay Packers in the 6th round.  He is currently a member of the New York Giants.

The explosive Dexter Williams, Notre Dame 2015-2018, another All-Time Irish Hero.

Williams moments after his final game in the 2018 College Football Playoff against Clemson. (Photo: Phil Houk/fighting Irish Preview)

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

Leave a Reply