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Friday, August 24, 2018

Running different’: RB Dom Williams striving for impactful sophomore season

Kansas running back Dom Williams (25) makes a cut with linebacker John Lillig (51) tries to cover him during practice on Saturday, August 4, 2018.

Kansas running back Dom Williams (25) makes a cut with linebacker John Lillig (51) tries to cover him during practice on Saturday, August 4, 2018.

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Junior Khalil Herbert just might be the Kansas football team's frontrunner to start at running back this fall. And most of the Jayhawks’ supporters are counting down the days until they get to see true freshman Pooka Williams with the football in his hands.

Just the same, sophomore Dom Williams allocated too much of his offseason time to becoming a more effective rusher to get overlooked.

Actually, the second-year back from Texas is easier to spot these days after packing on muscle.

A native of McKinney, Texas, Dom Williams credited strength coach Zac Woodfin and his staff, as well as the team’s dietitian, Ricky Ng, for transforming his frame, now listed at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, ahead of his sophomore season.

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University of Kansas running back Dom Williams

“I’m constantly eating,” Williams said. “And being able to put on weight and just getting my legs bigger and stronger. That’s one of the big things.”

Listed at 190 as a freshman, his weight hasn’t changed drastically, but his physical appearance has. His ability as a back has been upgraded, too, according to those who have watched KU’s closed practices this preseason.

“He is running different,” head coach David Beaty reported. “We hope he will continue to do that throughout the season. He really, really did grow up fast. And I think that he saw that he can be a premier back in this conference if he worked at it.”

In 2017 as a true freshman, Williams appeared in nine games, with one start, while dealing with some nagging injuries. The former four-star standout at Independence High (Texas) finished his debut college season with 51 carries for 176 yards, with three touchdowns. He also caught seven passes for 49 yards.

At practices this month, Williams has felt positive about his ability to run with a more physical style than he did as a freshman.

His head coach said the Jayhawks “gotta find a way” to keep him involved offensively this season.

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“He looks good,” Beaty said. “I told him the other day, ‘You don’t look like a baby anymore. You look great, man. I’m proud of you.’ I look forward to him having a really good season.”

Both Herbert, listed at 5-9 and 210 pounds, and Williams look jacked ahead of KU’s Sept. 1 opener thanks to the strength and conditioning regimen they’ve been on since the 2017 season’s conclusion. Williams said both he and Herbert benefited from having the other around.

“I feel like we both push each other because we’re both trying to be great,” Williams said. “And then we’re also close, just like brothers. We both want to see each other succeed, so I feel like that’s what helps us out the most.”

KU likely will lean on all three of its top running backs once the season begins. When Williams gets his touches, Beaty expects the second-year back to deliver.

“He put the work in. I am proud of him,” KU’s fourth-year coach said. “He’s pushing for that job. Good player.”

Comments

Marcus Balzer 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The best thing that can happen to this team is the bigger and more experienced Oline pound the rock with the Williams' and Herbert. Stay in front of the chains, keep Bender upright and not having to make the tough throws on 3rd and long. A good running game also keeps the defense off of the field. RCJH!

[''] 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Great kid and great talent. Let's hope Beaty and Meacham's poor coaching don't squander this young man's talents anymore. Good luck Dom!

Humpy Helsel 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I promised myself I wouldn't drink the "upcoming football season Kool Aid" this year. But here I am. The gurgling sound is me trying not to choke on it. I want to believe in this team so bad. I like Coach Beaty as a person and want these kids to succeed. It is just that I've gulped it down each of his three previous years and have gone on to witness the 3 and 33 to go along with the previous seasons' debacles. It's painful. And it's embarrassing. I've watched this so called starting QB thing the last three years (along with the previous years before that) and have never seen such a stupid concept which exist at KU. At a school like OU, for example, it is a meaningful competition and a big deal to name the starting quarterback. At KU, it is more like, or should be, "OK, you start the first game and if you don't produce, it is next man up." Just put a respectable team on the field that can avoid stupid mistakes on both sides of the ball. Don't be down 21 zip in the first quarter. Don't drop punt snaps, shank punts, or miss chippy field goals. Or drop passes that happen to land in your hands. Or miss an assignment allowing allowing a receiver to be wide open down the middle of the field. These latter events (I know...I have PTSD) are what teams who have a losing, 'here we go again" mentality with no idea how to play confident, routinely do. All of that lack of winning attitude stuff always goes back to the head coach. To our new AD, put some makeup in your back pocket to use at half-time "schmooze" events in case you need to hide your red face. I hope you don't need it, but it may be a good idea to have at the ready. I've got my makeup kit sitting right next to my empty glass of Kool Aid I just finished.

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