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NFL Draft: Utah State’s Kerwynn Williams goes to Colts

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Courtesy photo SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen enjoyed a success senior season with the Thunderbirds last year. The list of candidates to replace him is a lengthy one.

By Kyle Goon

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 27 2013 04:58PM
Updated May 3, 2013 04:22PM

Just like in his college career, Kerwynn Williams had to wait a bit longer than expected for his time to come.

But like two other running backs he played with at Utah State, Williams was taken in the NFL Draft. Midway through Saturday’s seventh round, the Indianapolis Colts took the Aggies’ versatile speedster with the 230th overall pick.

Utah State coach Matt Wells and many loyal Aggie fans were watching the draft wind down, hoping he would get picked. Wells said he felt confident. Not everyone felt the same.

"My 10-year-old [daughter] was tearing her hair out, and she screamed when Kerwynn came up on the TV," Wells said. "It was a big relief, but it was kind of like his career: He had to wait a little longer. He showed his humility and patience, and proved to be an outstanding player."

Williams sat behind two eventual NFL running backs — Robert Turbin and Michael Smith — early in his career, but had one of the best rushing seasons in school history as a senior. Williams ran for 1,512 yards and 15 touchdowns, and caught 45 passes for an additional 697 yards and five touchdowns. Those totals made him 10th in the nation in all-purpose yards per game (171.2).

His regular season earned him first-team WAC honors and an honorable mention on Sports Illustrated’s All-America list. But Williams saved his best performance for last, racking up 235 yards and three touchdowns on just 18 carries in a 41-15 win over Toledo in the Idaho Potato Bowl on the way to bowl MVP honors. His performances gave him an invitation to the East-West Shrine game and the NFL Combine.

Always a versatile player, Williams also recorded 3,390 kick return yards in his career, a WAC record. Wells said he fielded several calls from the Colts about Williams’ return ability, and Indianapolis’ assistant special teams coach, Brant Boyer, spent time running return drills with Williams at Utah State’s Pro Day in early March.

The Colts don’t have an ironclad depth chart at running back, with Vick Ballard and Donald Brown currently on the roster.

"I think he’s a complete steal for the Colts," Wells said. "I don’t think [his situation] is good, I think it’s great. With his kickoff returns, his ability to catch and run the football, his stock rose when teams take in all the special things he can do."

Williams could not be immediately reached, but he told The Tribune earlier in the week he planned to be waiting out the Draft in his hometown of Las Vegas.

Utah State has now produced three running backs who have been taken in the last two NFL Drafts. Turbin was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and Smith was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. Wells, who has been around Logan long enough to coach all three, said the reputation the school is earning is a nice plus to the draft process.

"It just validates our ability to recruit and develop running backs," he said. "If I was a running back, I’d want to play here."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

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