Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pooka Williams rated 3rd-best true freshman in FBS

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) takes off on a touchdown run during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) takes off on a touchdown run during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.


Pooka Williams’ skills aren’t only dropping jaws around Lawrence.

The freshman’s open-field speed, power, vision and agility, which have played a central role in consecutive victories for the Kansas football team, also are drawing the attention of college football evaluators nationwide.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Jayhawks’ young offensive star is the third-best true freshman in all of FBS through three weeks.

In only two games, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound back from Louisiana has rushed for a Big 12-leading 288 yards. Williams averages 8.7 yards per carry and has accounted for three of KU’s 10 offensive touchdowns on the season.

For the shows he put on in wins over Central Michigan and Rutgers, PFF assessed Williams with a 90.9 overall grade — highest among all FBS running backs, not just freshmen — for the season so far.

Only Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman (91.7) and Auburn safety Jamien Sherwood (91.0) have earned higher marks from PFF among true freshmen.

“A major component to Kansas’ 2-1 start, Williams has forced or avoided 16 tackles on just 33 attempts this season while he’s also gained 158 of his 306 yards after contact,” Cam Mellor wrote for “Diving deeper into Williams’ success reveals that he is currently the nation’s highest-graded running back on draw plays.”

According to PFF, Williams is one of only 22 running backs to attempt at least two draws, and the KU freshman leads them all with 134 yards (59 after contact), three TDs, three more first downs, four missed tackles forced and a 95.9 grade.

Williams’ 163 rushing yards versus RU is the highest total in the Big 12 so far this year. It ranked fifth all-time in KU history for rushing yards by a freshman. June Henley holds the record, with 237 against Iowa State, in 1993.


Brian Wilson 3 years, 9 months ago

Proof it pays to come and play at KU. If you are a 4 star player and can get the chance to play as a Freshman and make the front page.....why not!

Dirk Medema 3 years, 9 months ago

There are some who want the security of a proven program. Fortunately there are others that want to play right away, are confident enough in their ability and are willing to blaze a trail.

If he can remain remotely close to where he is now it will mean great things for the program and potentially the implosion of several commenters and editors.

Joe Ross 3 years, 9 months ago

I think you should name any and all people to whom you think your barb applies. "Implosion" is a grandiose word for surprise, which is a normal human reaction when things can not be foreseen or when evidence has lead to very natural perceptions about the program and the program's chances for success. But YOU saw the emergence of Pooka Williams and his effect on the season prior to opening kickoff, right? Maybe you have some comments in your history to that effect? I don't know. Maybe you DO. But the facts are perceptions exist for a reason, that widespread perceptions are most often rooted in reality, and the reality IS that Kansas has been record-settingly awful for the last 10 years. In fact, they've been awful under this head coach. 3-33 prior to the season. Losses to FCS programs. I could go on with stats that all KU football fans already know. I know of NO ONE who is not pleasantly surprised by the performance of the team thus far, maybe except for Bryce Landen.

Your horse is getting pretty high.

David Kemp 3 years, 9 months ago

Please oline just give this kid a seam and he will takeover the game!

Len Shaffer 3 years, 9 months ago

One thing that worries me is how many draws KU has been calling, as you can see from the stats above. Obviously defensive coaches are going to adjust to that, so let's hope KU keeps coming up with creative ways to get Pooka the ball. If he has even the slightest amount of space to operate in, the results will be tremendous.

Steven Haag 3 years, 9 months ago

We can also now drop the tight end just beyond the linebackers, as they they stay put waiting for the draw play. Please OC Meachum, draw up some pass plays for when they stack the box

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 9 months ago

I loved June but i think Pooka us better. Herbert is just as good. And where did Thompson come from? Dang, we have the best backfield ever. From what I saw Dom Williams is the 4th best back. Of course perhaps that's part of the strategy. Put in a slower back then as the defense starts adjusting to that then put in the burners? If so, I'd rather we score early and often.

Stephen Johnson 3 years, 9 months ago

In 1975 we had Laverne Smith and Nolan Cromwell in the backfield.

Lonnie Ross Dillon 3 years, 9 months ago

Don't forget Norris Banks and Billy Campfield shared that wishbone backfield. Norris I think was drafted but never played, but Billy played in the NFL for several years.

Steve Grimm 3 years, 9 months ago

Now that Pooka & KUs running game will be a focal point for all of our Big 12 opponents, it will be interesting to see just how good he really is.

It will also be a test to see whether KU's offense can take advantage of it in the air.

Kudos to our beloved Jayhawks to finally have something that causes concern for our opponents.

Now: can we take advantage of it or are we a one-trick pony?

Either way, it is amazing what a little bit of hope does to a team. With a couple of impressive wins under our belt, what was once "mediocre" is often promoted to "very good" just by the new infusion of energy and commitment applied by these very same players.

As for me, my hopes are high that we can leverage all of this and return to being a competitive team.

Go Hawks!

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