Pooka Williams not only David Beaty recruit having monster season
Even if Kansas freshman running back Pooka Williams continues on the pace he has set in his first three games it will be difficult for him to earn first-team All-American honors.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Stanford’s Bryce Love had the advantage of entering the season as Heisman Trophy candidates and Taylor is off to a terrific start.
And then there is Darrell Henderson of Memphis. So far, Henderson easily has the best case for the Heisman, even if he’s strangely missing from the Heisman watches of various websites.
Henderson not only leads the nation with 177.25 rushing yards per game and is tied for second with eight rushing touchdowns, he’s second with 12.22 yards per carry.
It’s too early to count out Pooka, but the truth is that his chances of earning first-team All-American honors rank second to another player Beaty recruited to Kansas.
A third of the way through the season, there isn’t a tight end in America with a better case for first-team honors than Jace Steinberger, recruited to Kansas out of Kingfisher, Okla., as part of the Class of 2015, Beaty’s first recruiting class, which also included defensive end Dorance Armstrong and wide receiver Steven Sims.
Armstrong, of course, is playing for the Dallas Cowboys, leaving Sims as the lone remaining player at Kansas from that talented trio of recruits.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Sternberger is in his first season at Texas A&M.
Sternberger redshirted in 2015 and played mostly on special teams in 2016, when he caught one pass for five yards. He believed in himself enough to leave Kansas and play a year in junior college, figuring he could attract winning football programs to recruit him. He figured right.
Sternberger has 13 receptions for 205 yards and four touchdowns and is averaging 15.3 yards per catch.
He’s right there with Iowa’s Noah Fant (15 catches, 169 yards, four TDs, 11.3 average), Jared Pinkey of Vanderbilt (16-283-1, 17.7), Stanford’s Kaden Smith (18-205-4, 14.3), Keenan Brown of Texas State (19-256-2, 13.47), Utah State’s Dax Raymond (15-210-1, 14.0) and Albert Okwuegbunam of Missouri (23-181-2, 7.9).
Another member of the Kansas recruiting Class of 2015 will be in the limelight for another program this week. As did Sternberger, quarterback Ryan Willis believed in himself and gave up his scholarship at Kansas. Willis accepted an offer to walk on at Virginia Tech, where he sat out as a redshirt last season after spending two years in the Kansas program splitting starts with Montell Cozart most of the time. Willis joined a program that had four scholarship quarterbacks and worked his way to No. 2 on the depth chart at the start of this season.
Virginia Tech starting quarterback Josh Jackson suffered a broken leg during an upset loss to Old Dominion. Willis entered and completed 9 of 18 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception and rushed for 30 yards on four carries.
Willis will start Saturday’s game at No. 22 Duke.
Tyriek “T.J.” Starks, another former Kansas quarterback, is playing at Iowa Western Community College and is getting the second-most snaps in a job share. He has rushed for 173 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt, and as a passer is 33 for 71 (46.4 percent) for 444 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, not the sort of production that will draw the attention of Power Five recruiters. A native of New Orleans, Starks spent two years in the Kansas program, redshirting his first season.