If anyone is searching for a breakout performer on the Kansas football team this season, Mike Lee just might have your playmaker in waiting.
Lee, a senior safety from New Orleans, is a talker. So any subject matter thrown his direction is generally met with a welcoming response. Ask him about Takulve Williams, though, and Lee’s eyes widen as his grin stretches.
“Oh, great,” Lee said earlier this week at Big 12 Football Media Days. “I can tell you a lot about Takulve Williams.”
That’s because both Lee and Williams are from New Orleans, where they grew up playing little league football on opposing teams. Their gridiron matchups continued as they grew into legitimate prospects in high school, with Lee at Landry-Walker and Williams at St. Augustine.
Lee arrived at KU in 2016 with more buzz and a four-star rating from Rivals. But Williams, who was rated a two-star wide receiver in KU’s 2017 signing class and took a redshirt season during his first year in Lawrence, might be the ultimate under the radar player for the Jayhawks’ offense this coming fall.
“People better have a lookout on Takulve Williams,” Lee warned. “Everybody knows Pooka (Williams), Dom (Williams) and Khalil (Herbert),” Lee added of KU’s three running backs. “They don’t know about Takulve Williams yet.”
Just a reserve receiver as a redshirt freshman in 2018, Williams appeared in 10 games and caught five passes for 39 yards.
Now listed at 6 feet and 200 pounds, Williams first showed those who follow KU football he might be capable of much more during the spring game earlier this year.
It was during that showcase scrimmage that Williams not only caught a pair of passes for 24 yards but proved he can enhance the offense in other ways, too. At times, KU used Williams as a rusher out of the backfield. On a mere three carries, Williams produced 84 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s a versatile player,” Lee said. “He can play slot. He can play running back. Anywhere you want to put him at, he can play. He’s willing to make plays for the team.”
Because of his ability to adapt and perhaps provide chunks of yardage, Williams figures to be a factor on KU’s two-deep at receiver and give coaches the option of using him as a rusher.
Even though it took Williams a couple of years to make the headway necessary to be trusted with a larger role, Lee said his buddy from “The Boot” always remained confident.
“He’s a very physical guy, explosive guy. Great athlete. Most people didn’t see him play,” Lee said. “But this year, they’re really going to see what Takulve Williams is all about.”