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Utah State football: Patience pays off for Kerwynn Williams

Published December 9, 2012 6:12 pm

USU football • After biding time, running back is riding high.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • For all that Kerwynn Williams has done at Utah State, his career is defined by what he didn't do.

The senior running back never walked into Gary Andersen's office with the threat to transfer schools. He never went to his position coach and asked for more playing time. He never became a cancer in the locker room. He never complained when his role was pretty much limited to being a special-teams guy.

And it would've been easy to do so. Today, Williams is an All-WAC performer, one of USU's main cogs heading into Saturday's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl matchup against Toledo. But for three years, the Las Vegas native was little more than a backup, even though he had the talent to achieve much more.

Yet, he never made a peep.

"It says a ton about his character and what that young man is all about," Andersen said. "I know that guys with his talent want to play, and he has deserved to play and be on the field since day one. He's been extremely unselfish, and kids like that are the foundation of what we've built the program on."

Williams will finish his Utah State career Saturday. And in this, his first and only season as a starter, the 5-foot-8 chunk of muscle has turned into one of the finest all-around offensive talents in the conference, as well as an NFL prospect. Against Toledo, he will likely break the conference career record for all-purpose yardage.

On 200 rushing attempts this season, Williams has 1,277 yards and 12 touchdowns. Always a great receiver, he has 43 catches for 663 yards and another five scores. He combines with quarterback Chuckie Keeton to account for over half of USU's offense. After the season, Williams will play in the East-West Shrine Game, one of the premier all-star showcases for NFL prospects.

"I always knew that I could play when given the chance," Williams said. "But I had to wait my turn. I mean, Robert Turbin and Michael Smith turned out to be NFL running backs, and they are both great players. I just kind of bided my time and took advantage when I had a chance."

Williams has always been serious about football. He was never much of a party guy, and never much for clowning around. From his perspective, he could never afford to. Utah State was his only scholarship offer coming out of high school.

"Football has always been about business," Williams said. "I can have fun in other parts of my life."

With the year he's had, it's a bit easy to forget that Williams made his mark first as a kickoff returner. When Turbin and Smith went down for the season in 2010, Williams started five games and led the WAC in all-purpose yards.

It wasn't easy, and there was a bit of frustration, but Williams returned to role-player status in 2011 with Turbin and Smith healthy. The pay-off, though, has been this season. Williams has been the feature back, and it appears that he may have a chance to perform at the next level.

"I firmly believe Kerwynn will be an NFL draft pick," Andersen said. "He's done everything he needs to. He's gotten stronger, he's gotten faster and he's one of the most mature kids that I've been around. He deserves everything that will come his way."

tjones@sltrib.comon twitter: @tjonessltrib —

Famous IdahoPotato Bowl

P Utah State vs. Toledo, Bronco Stadium, Boise

Dec. 15, 2:30 p.m., ESPN —

Kerwynn Williams file

• First team all-WAC this season

• Is a native of Las Vegas

• Utah State's career leader in all-purpose yards, with 6,659