LAWRENCE – Pooka Williams Jr., earned a spot on The Athletic’s Freshman All-America team, as one of the publication’s top 25-rated first-year players. Williams took home first team honors at running back, becoming the first Jayhawk to earn Freshman All-America honors since safety Mike Lee was recognized as a first team honoree by Rivals.com in 2016.
A New Orleans native, Williams took home Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors and was also named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a running back and a returner. One of the most explosive players in the league with 15 carries of 20+ yards, Williams rushed for a total of 1,125 yards on 161 carries, good for 102.3 yards per game, 7.0 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns. He added 289 yards and two scores on 33 receptions and 246 yards on 11 kick returns to lead the Big 12 and rank sixth in the FBS in all-purpose yards at 150.9 per game. Williams also threw for a touchdown-a nine-yard pass against Oklahoma.
Williams is one of two players in the Big 12 Conference to record a 100-yard rushing game (4) and a 100-yard receiving game (1) joining TCU’s Jalen Reagor. He is also one of only two players in the league to score a touchdown by way of passing, rushing and receiving in 2018 joining Texas’ Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and is one of just three true freshman in Big 12 history to accomplish the feat.
Williams’ 1,125 rushing yards tie him for eighth place in KU’s single-season history books, ranking him second among Jayhawk freshmen on that list. His 252 rushing yards at Oklahoma rank sixth in KU’s single-game records, while his 16.8 yards per carry against the Sooners was both a Big 12 Conference and Kansas record for a game with a minimum of 15 carries. His 1,660 all-purpose yards rank third on KU’s single-season list.
Williams was tabbed the Big 12 Conference’s Newcomer of the Week on four occasions during the 2018 season. He is the one of just two Jayhawk running backs to be tabbed All-Big 12 First Team, joining Jon Cornish (2006). He is also one of just two Kansas returners to earn All-Big 12 First Team accolades, joining Charles Gordon (2005).