Monday, October 19, 2020

Pooka Williams Jr. opts out of remainder of KU football season

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) scores a touchdown past Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard (2) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Jerry Larson/ Waco Tribune Herald/ pool)

Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) scores a touchdown past Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard (2) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Jerry Larson/ Waco Tribune Herald/ pool)


What was shaping up as a potentially disappointing year for preseason All-Big 12 running back Pooka Williams Jr. came to an abrupt end on Monday, as the Kansas junior announced he would be opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season.

Williams thanked head coach Les Miles and “everyone with the Kansas football program for their commitment and understanding” in a statement on his decision to leave the team four games into the schedule.

In the statement, Williams said he was opting out in order to move back to Louisiana to be closer to his mother, who is dealing with health issues.

“Family and health are the most important things to me. Right now I need to be with my mother,” Williams said.

In a separate statement, Miles said he and the staff “fully support Pooka’s decision.” Miles said he was proud of Williams “for making this tremendous sacrifice to support his family, and do what he believes is right.”

A blanket waiver passed by the NCAA allows fall sports athletes in Division I to opt out of the 2020 season without losing a year of eligibility.

Four games into his junior season, Williams was averaging 49 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry for the struggling KU offense. It was a far cry from the production he enjoyed earlier in his career, when he put up 102.3 rushing yards per game as a freshman in 2018 and 96.5 yards an outing a year ago.

A sophomore running back, Velton Gardner, is KU’s current leading rusher, with 250 yards this season on 47 attempts (4.8 yards per carry). Williams and Gardner each scored two rushing touchdowns during KU’s first four games.

Williams made his announcement hours after being named the Big 12’s Special Teams Player of the Week following a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Saturday at West Virginia.

None by PTM✨

None by Les Miles


Randy Bombardier 1 year, 11 months ago

I completely understand. Hope she gets better.

Doug Roberts 1 year, 11 months ago

He'll never play for KU again. And I don't blame him.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 11 months ago

Gave more than he got by a long, long, long way. Best to Pooka. Dynamic.

Chandler Accipiter 1 year, 11 months ago

Best of everything to Pooka. Hope it all works out for him like it has for Khalil Herbert, the national leader in rushing.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 11 months ago

We’re 0-4, our O-line can’t block worth S, we haven’t figured out who our starting QB is and our best player has left the team. The wheels have officially fallen off.

Layne Pierce 1 year, 11 months ago

My feelings are mixed. Yes. It it rains it pours for KU football. But the fact is with our offensive line, Barry Sanders would be stifled. And I think Gardner is adequate. Let some other backs get some carries for next year. The fact is, that our line coach should be fired, and our conditioning person needs to put some weight on our young kids, and keep strength and mobility. Our offensive line is the number one issue on our team. QB is problematic especially because of the line. It wasn't great last year, but it was so much better than this year. Our defense is slowly improving. But our offensive line means we ccannot even play ball possession. We struggle to get a first down, we often finish a series with a minus gain on 3 playrs. That just won't cut it. We would probably be better half he time to just punt on 3rd down regularly. At least we would gain some field position. I'm not proud, this line is so bad that I actually think I would run the clock down on almost every play. I am not sure that the results would be any worse, and the defense would spend the same or less amount of time on the field.

Also it is hard to tell if Dearmon really is a genius or just got lucky last year, because Carter Stanley showed why he should have been the starter for 3 years. Thanks for that Coach Beatty. We actually have some decent receivers and running backs, qbs are mediocre at best, but with our line, no one has enough time to do anything. Why not play a lot of people, we are not going to win any games this year, unless it's a miracle. And we might as well develop players for the future.


Mike Morris 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm probably one of the few people that thought Beatty was turning the corner. He landed a few 4-star players like Pooka, he finally broke though with a 3-win season after so many terrible seasons. Coach Miles is a great coach, but he doesn't scream 'long term' to me. He seems like Charlie Weiss Part 2. Try to get a quick fix with a big name coach. Sure, he's not going the juco route, but we just had a 3-star lineman decommit today, so his name doesn't seem to be enough to bring in decent talent.

Losing our best player is rough. But if his mom is sick, then I can't fault him for leaving. It's his mom, so he may have done that even if we're 4-0, but 0-4 with that O-line...easy choice to go take care of mom. Good luck Pooka! Hope all gets better soon! RCJH!

Dane Pratt 1 year, 11 months ago

He was improving the talent pool and there was an argument for retaining him until the shelves were fully stocked but the fans would not have stood for it.

Bee Bee 1 year, 11 months ago

Could K U Football be a bigger CLUSTER???

Dane Pratt 1 year, 11 months ago

Sadly no. Terry Allen, former poster child for bad KU head coaches, went 21-35 in five seasons. The exact number of wins this program has in the ten years following Mangino. He also managed 10 conference wins in half the time it took his successors to reach six.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm hopeful he will come back, but I totally get this decision, and probably was the right one for him. If he does leave, I want him to be big time successful, I think he's got an NFL career regardless.

Chris Bailey 1 year, 11 months ago

So......Does anyone think Pooka will come back next year? Is that even a possibility? With the waver year can he transfer and play immediately next season somewhere else? This is bad news for KU.

Layne Pierce 1 year, 11 months ago

As I said above we have some young talent, and some developmental possibilities, let's play them some and at least get some game reps out of this season. Last year I enjoyed KU football, because our o-line was barely adequate and we had a very good QB, just look at where he's at on the career stats ledger,and god bless Coach Beatty for not starting him the 2 years before.

Fact is we all want a miracle guy to show up and walk on water. Running backs are only as effective initially as the line in front of them. Last year's line was not great but much better than this motley crew we have now. Last year they often at least made a small hole for Pooka and he did the rest. This year, it's a stone wall up there, no place to go, no way to get started.

My idea of getting reps has a precedent in Glen Mason, when he came KU was every bit as bad as now, and he had even less talent. But he stopped thinking about wins and losses, and simply thought about developing a team, and that is what happened. How low can we go, well we;re finding out, but Mason actually made no expectations work for him.

As far as Pooka goes, I'm going to remember that kickoff return for a touchdown, forever. It was a a thing of beauty, right out of the Gale Sayers playbook.


Micky Baker 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't blame him. He's got so much potential and won't be able to reach his goals at KU right now. If he had been 3 years later and Miles was coach 3 years when he is a freshman, then that might a be completely different story. Williams could be rushing for 150 yards per game at other schools and he should do what is best for him. He won't have a chance to get to the next level at KU. I wish him the best and it has to be a difficult decision. However, this happened a season ago as well and the cupboard was left bare by the previous coaching staffs. This is a major project and we're going to have to give at least 4, probably 5 seasons to see KU have a chance to be middle of the pack or 3rd or 4th in the conference. Some people don't have the stomach to wait that long. It goes back to the firing of Mangino to save the face of the AD at that time, shouldn't have done it. Probably should have suspended him for a game or two. That is when the slide began. Just keep building this thing and developing the players and maybe in 2 seasons we can have a goal of being bowl eligible. But it's not going to happen before that and we're going to have to accept that.

Tyson Travis 1 year, 11 months ago

Pooka has given us a good effort for 2-1/2 years, now it's time to get something for himself and his family. My prediction is that he returns home to Louisiana, gets on a workout schedule, and starts visiting other more successful LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, or even Oklahoma. A good year with a good supporting cast on a nationally recognized team should up his NFL draft status considerably, maybe even first round. He was never going to get there playing for us. His signing bonus should help him and his family for many years to come. Thanks a bunch, Pooka, it's been enjoyable watching you!

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