Dexter Williams dishes on his pet bearded dragon


Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Call it love at first sight.

One day last year, Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams found himself walking through a pet store. That’s when he saw a bearded dragon that he knew he had to take home.

“I was like, 'I'm going to get him one day,’” Williams said. “Then I came back the next week and bought him. Ever since then, I fell in love with him.”

Inspired by the spikes on the lizard’s shoulders and its tannish color that mimics a rock, Williams named his new pet Rocko. Spend much time around Williams and you’re likely to meet Rocko. He even makes appearances at The Guglielmino Athletics Complex, though he has not showed up for any interview sessions.

You really don't know love until you've seen Dexter Williams (@DexterW_22) talk about his bearded dragon, Rocco.

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) August 9, 2017

When Williams left campus for the team’s preseason camp at Culver Academies earlier this month, Williams arranged for a close friend in South Bend to take care of Rocko. He wasn’t going to leave Rocko hanging.

"Taking care of a bearded dragon is a lot of responsibility,” Williams said. “Because you have to feed it the right nutrients and stuff. And definitely spend a lot of time with it, because he'll get rowdy if he's in the cage all the time.”

“I take him out of the cage a lot, let him run around. He's hangs out in my room. Sometimes I'll bring him to The Gug and let the guys play with him.”

The bearded dragon has grown to a little more than a foot long in the last year. Williams makes sure to feed him well.

“He eats crickets. When he gets big enough, he'll eat mice,” Williams said. “He eats a lot of kale, lettuce, a lot of greens."

Bearded dragons can grow up to nearly two feet long. That will require Williams to buy Rocko a bigger habitat later this year.

Back in the sixth grade, Williams had to get rid of his pet ball python because it grew to be too big. Don’t expect that to happen to Rocko. He and Williams are inseparable.

A college football player and his pet bearded dragon. It’s not your typical love story.

Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams has a pet bearded dragon. These are not his bearded dragons. (Tribune File Photo)
Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams (2) runs by Duke’s Joe Giles-Harris (44) during the Notre Dame-Duke NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN