Pooka Williams is ready for primetime.
The former Kansas Jayhawks running back and Hahnville High School alumnus officially declared he will be entering the 2021 NFL Draft, and thus ending his collegiate career after three seasons with KU.
Williams opted out of the final four games of Kansas’ season in order to return home to tend to a family matter. It sparked speculation as to what his next move would be: a return to Kansas for his senior season, a transfer to another school, or a jump to the NFL.
Earlier this month, Williams put an end to the speculation, making the announcement via Twitter.
“After much thought and consideration, I will be pursuing my lifelong dream and declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. Since I was a kid, playing in the NFL has been my goal and I could not be more excited to continue to work toward that goal,” Williams said.
At Kansas, Williams played under former longtime LSU head coach Les Miles in each of the past two seasons.
“I want to thank Coach (Les) Miles and the entire staff at Kansas for everything they have done for me … Coach Miles is my guy for life. I will always bleed Crimson and Blue,” Williams said.
Williams had the option of returning to Kansas for two more seasons, as athletes were granted a waiver toward an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Williams rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons at Kansas, including a true freshman year that saw him average an eye-popping 7.0 yards a carry. He scored 14 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns over the two year span.
In 2020, Kansas’ offense struggled, and Williams’ production suffered. The 5’10, 170 pound running back rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries prior to stepping away from the program. His final week at Kansas came with accolades, however, as he was named the Big 12 Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after a game in which he returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown at West Virginia.
Williams opted out as his mother battled health issues, citing a need to be at her side.
“Today, I made the very difficult decision to opt out of the rest of the season to be closer to my mother and family in Louisiana,” said Williams at the time. “Family and health are the most important things to me. Right now, I need to be with my mother.”
During Williams’ senior season at Hahnville, he cemented a legacy. He led Hahnville to the 2017 Class 5A championship game in a season he took the prep world by storm in Louisiana, rushing for nearly 1,500 yards in the postseason alone and more than 3,000 on the season. It represented the highest single season rushing total in Louisiana’s prep football history. He scored 40 touchdowns that year and was named Louisiana’s Mr. Football.