Kansas Jayhawks star running back Pooka Williams announced Monday that his junior season is over, as the Hahnville alumnus is opting out of the 2020 season.
According to Williams via Twitter, the decision was made as his mother battles 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 through a statement posted to Twitter. “Family and health are the most important things to me. Right now, I need to be with my mother, who is battling health issues.”
Williams thanked Kansas head coach and former LSU coach Les Miles and the Kansas football program for their commitment to him and understanding of the situation.
“I believe in the direction of Kansas football and what Coach Miles is building. Rock Chalk Jayhawk,” Williams said.
While Williams made no announcement for his plans beyond 2020, he may have offered a hint via an additional Twitter message accompanying his statement where he noted “I’m going to miss all my guys and coaches, it’s forever Rock Chalk.”
Were he to declare for the NFL Draft, Williams has been projected to be selected by various prognosticators to be selected, potentially, among the top 100 players, and as one of the draft’s top sleeper prospects.
Williams led Kansas in rushing in each of his first two seasons with the Jayhawks. This season, however, he got off to a relatively slow start after back to back 1,000 yard seasons. Williams rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries this season, though the 2020 campaign was hardly devoid of Pooka Magic before his announcement Monday – he was named the Big 12 Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown against West Virginia Saturday.
In his freshman year with Kansas, he rushed for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging seven yards a carry, and added 33 receptions for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, he followed up with 1,042 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 203 carries to go with 27 catches for 214 yards and two scores.
Williams 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.