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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

KU’s Pooka Williams and Kyle Thompson land on preseason All-Big 12 team

Kansas freshman running back Pooka Williams eyes a running lane against Central Michigan, during the Jayhawks’ 31-7 road win Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Kansas freshman running back Pooka Williams eyes a running lane against Central Michigan, during the Jayhawks’ 31-7 road win Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

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Despite an offseason full of uncertainty regarding his exact status for the coming Kansas football season, expectations remain high for sophomore running back Pooka Williams.

A day after being cleared by KU’s athletic department to rejoin the football program after a seven-month suspension tied to a domestic battery charge, Williams picked up All-Big 12 honors on Tuesday, when the conference announced its 2019 preseason team, as voted on by the media.

Junior KU punter Kyle Thompson joined Williams, the Big 12’s leading returning rusher, on the team, giving the duo the distinction of being the only Jayhawks represented on the list, which didn’t include a second team.

Named a first-team All-Big 12 performer in 2018, following his freshman season, and voted by league coaches as the Offensive Freshman of the Year, as well as Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press, Williams averaged 102.3 yards per game on the ground.

Williams finished his debut season with 1,125 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound back from Louisiana proved to be versatile within KU’s offense, also contributing 289 receiving yards, 33 catches and two TDs receptions. Plus, Williams threw a nine-yard TD pass at Oklahoma.

On special teams, Williams’ 246 yards on 11 kick returns helped him lead the conference in all-purpose yards, at 150.9 per game.

The AP named Williams the Big 12’s first-team all-purpose player in 2018, and a second-team running back. The league’s coaches voted Williams to the first team at running back following KU’s 3-9 season.

Now a sophomore, the running back’s suspension from the KU football team, which lasted from December until July, was lifted on Monday, when KU announced his reinstatement.

Head coach Les Miles suspended Williams after he was arrested and charged with domestic battery. Williams reached a diversion agreement regarding the misdemeanor charge in March.

As part of his punishment, Williams will miss KU’s season opener versus Indiana State.

Thompson, a 6-4 junior from El Cajon, Calif., averaged 43.3 yards per punt in 2018, with 17 traveling 50 or more yards. The Big 12’s coaches named him last year to the All-Big 12 second team.

Among his 69 punts a year ago, Thompson placed 26 inside the 20-yard line.

2019 Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team

Offensive Player of the Year: Sam Ehlinger, Texas, QB,

Defensive Player of the Year: Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma, LB,

Newcomer of the Year: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, QB

Offense

QB - Sam Ehlinger, Texas      

RB - Pooka Williams, Kansas   

RB - Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma

RB - Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

WR - CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma       

WR - Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State

WR - Jalen Reagor, TCU 

TE - Grant Calcaterra,

OL - Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

OL - Lucas Niang, TCU

OL - Zach Shackelford, Texas

OL - Jack Anderson, Texas Tech

OL - Colton McKivitz, West Virginia

PK - Cameron Dicker, Texas

KR/PR - CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma  

Defense

DL - James Lynch, Baylor

DL - JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State

DL - Ray Lima, Iowa State

DL - Reggie Walker, K-State

DL - Corey Bethley, TCU

LB - Clay Johnston, Baylor

LB - Marcel Spears Jr., Iowa State

LB - Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

DB - Greg Eisworth, Iowa State

DB - A.J. Green, Oklahoma State 

DB - Jeff Gladney, TCU

DB - Caden Sterns, Texas

DB - Adrian Frye, Texas Tech

P - Kyle Thompson, Kansas

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