Irish senior running back Dexter Williams was suspended the first four games of the season, and seemed unlikely to make an impact this year. He turned out to be Notre Dame's leading rusher in just eight games, and he credits his time spent in Brian Kelly's doghouse with the success.
Williams leads ND with 941 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He made his presence felt right away. On his very first snap of the season, Williams took off for a 45-yard touchdown run to spark the Irish against Stanford.
That started a trend for the running back. Seemingly every time the Irish needed a big play this season, Dex provided it.
He attributes his career year to some much needed maturity.
"It was just that time, I just had to grow up and become a man," Williams said. "I just dealt with the consequences, I kept my head up, I never let my head get down, I always tried to stay on my teammates and my teammates stayed on me, and it was just a chain reaction. I just wanted more for them and they wanted more for me, and they expected more from me, so I just come out everyday and give it my all."
Williams will have his hands full in the Cotton Bowl, running against one of the best defensive lines in the country.
The Irish will take on Clemson with a trip to the national championship on the line on Saturday, December 29th at 4pm.