Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams named one of five finalists for Paul Hornung Award

Tyler James
ND Insider
Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams (23) runs the ball for a touchdown during the Notre Dame vs. Purdue NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Kyren Williams moved one step closer Wednesday to becoming the first Notre Dame player to win the Paul Hornung Award. 

Notre Dame’s star running back was named as one of five finalists for award that recognizes the most versatile player in major college football. The award, which bears the namesake of Notre Dame’s 1956 Heisman Trophy winner, was first bestowed in 2010. 

Williams joined Michigan running back Blake Corum, Ball State wide receiver Justin Hall, Houston cornerback Marcus Jones and Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed as a finalist. All five players are also return specialists in addition to their roles on offense or defense. 

In addition to being a major force in Notre Dame’s offense, Williams added punt return responsibilities to his workload this season. The 5-foot-9, 199-pound junior rushed 174 times for 872 and 10 touchdowns, caught 36 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns and returned 11 punts for 118 yards in Notre Dame’s first 10 games of the season. 

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Williams entered the week ranked No. 19 in the FBS in all-purpose yardage for averaging 132.7 yards per game. That put him slightly behind the three other offensive players who are finalists for the Hornung Award: Reed (No. 13; 138.8 yards per game), Hall (15; 136.1) and Corum (17; 135.4). 

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith won the Hornung Award last year. 

Surprisingly, Williams did not make the semifinalists cut for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back. The 10 semifinalists included: BYU’s Tyler Allgeier, Missouri’s Tyler Badie, Iowa State’s Breece Hall, Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson, UTSA’s Sincere McCormick, Texas’ Bijan Robinson, Baylor’s Abram Smith, Syracuse’s Sean Tucker, Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn and Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III. 

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.