Andre Williams appeared to put together a glittering resume loaded with impressive accomplishments in his search for a job in the National Football League.
Listed by scouts as being 5 feet 11 inches and 230 pounds, the former Boston College running back led the nation in rushing with 2,177 yards on 355 carries, averaging 167.5 yards per game. He became the 16th player in FBS history to rush for more than 2,000 yards.
Williams set school and Atlantic Coast Conference records when he rushed for 339 yards on 42 attempts in a home victory against North Carolina State and culminated his college career by finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting, earning consensus All-America honors, and winning the Doak Walker Award as the premier running back in the nation.
And yet, it apparently didn’t do enough to impress NFL scouts. That much was evident when nine running backs, including two from Football Championship Subdivision schools, were selected ahead of Williams in the NFL Draft. Washington’s Bishop Sankey was the first back selected when the Titans took him in the second round (54th overall), and Florida State’s Devonta Freeman was the first ACC back chosen when the Falcons took him in the fourth round (103d).
But Williams’s patience was rewarded Saturday when the New York Giants and former BC coach Tom Coughlin selected him in the fourth round with the 113th pick.
“Patience is a really valuable thing,’’ Williams said. “It worked out the best possible way it could, no matter what round it ended up being. Whether it was after the fourth round, had I come to the Giants, I would have been just as happy. The round doesn’t really bother me at all.’’
The Giants, known for their power running game, found a fit in Williams.
“I’m just thrilled for Andre where he ended up,’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio. “It’s a great spot for him.’’
Williams was the first of four BC players taken in the draft. After the Super Bowl champion Seahawks selected linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis in the fourth round (132d overall), the Lions took kicker Nate Freese, BC’s all-time leading scorer, in the seventh round (229th), and the 49ers chose defensive end Kaleb Ramsey with the 243d pick.
Pierre-Louis, of Norwalk, was the second player from Connecticut to be selected in the fourth round after the Saints took Cal linebacker Khairi Fortt, of Stamford with the 126th overall pick.
University of Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch, a 6-5, 258-pounder from Dartmouth who started 24 of 26 games and made 54 catches for 890 yards and 8 TDs his last two seasons with the Bulldogs, was the second of four Massachusetts natives to be selected when the Dolphins took him in the fifth round (155th).
“It’s so funny because you talk to all these teams and they say they like you and they very may well like you,’’ said Lynch, who was one of three tight ends from Massachusetts to be selected after Cal’s Richard Rodgers of Worcester was taken 98th by the Packers and UMass’s Rob Blanchflower of Leominster was picked 230th by the Steelers.
“It’s just a matter of matter of what their needs are and what they value you at, and thank God the Miami Dolphins valued me enough to pick me. I’m excited, again, for this opportunity because it’s a once in a lifetime chance. I hope to make the most of it.”
UConn outside linebacker Yawin Smallwood from Worcester was the fourth Massachusetts native taken, plucked by the Falcons at the 253d spot. UConn defensive tackle Shamar Stephen went to the Vikings with pick No. 220.
Williams was thrilled about being selected by the Giants.
“Honestly, I’m just elated right now,’’ said Williams, a native of Schnecksville, Pa. “The Giants are just the team from the beginning that I really resonated with the most. I had a great interview at the combine with Coach Coughlin and everybody, the staff there. We really just had a good vibe flowing in the room. I just had a feeling from the moment that this would be the team that would end up picking me.
“It’s right in an area that I’m really familiar with in the Northeast, so I’m just glad that it worked out this way.’’
There was a theory before the draft that the NFL had devalued the running back position, reinforced by offseason transactions in which the Titans’ Chris Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher, and New Orleans scatback Darren Sproles both were sent to new NFL addresses. Then no running backs were selected in the first round or among the first 53 players taken in the 2014 draft.
“I think the running back position is such a versatile position in the league,’’ Williams said. “The trend might be for them to go later in the draft but I think they’re just as valuable to an offense. There’s no other position that’s called upon to protect the quarterback, convert [first] downs in hard situations, and control the clock.
“I think the running back is just as valuable as it was back in the day even though the trend is for running backs to go later on in the rounds.’’
When the Titans, using that 54th pick after acquiring it from the Eagles, drafted Sankey, a shifty 5-9, 203-pounder who looks to be the heir apparent to Johnson in Nashville, it was the latest selection of a running back in the NFL draft since 1967.
Sankey’s selection, however, seemed to trigger a run on backs.
Cincinnati was next and selected Louisiana State’s Jeremy Hill with the 55th pick. Then the 49ers grabbed Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde 57th overall.
When the third round got underway Friday, five more backs were selected.
Williams acknowledged there were questions about his ability to be productive in the passing game.
“Catching the ball has not been my strong point in my career,’’ Williams said. “I wasn’t called upon to do it a lot in high school or in college just because I was such a great runner, but it is something that I’ve continued to work on through the years and especially in the last offseason a lot. It’s something I continue to get better at.’’
Although he did most of his damage rushing the ball and not catching it (he had 10 career receptions for 60 yards at BC), Williams’s primary role in the passing game was as an extra blocker in max protection and on blitz pickup.
“I did do a lot of pass protection last year and in years past,’’ Williams pointed out. “I’ve been through about five different offensive coordinators, different offenses I was called upon to do different things. This year I was just called upon to run the ball and we had a lot of success with that.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.