Kansas RB Pooka Williams Jr. Opts out of 2020 Season to Be Closer to His Mother

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2019, file photo, Kansas' Pooka Williams Jr. (1) runs for a long gain against Texas during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Austin, Texas. Pooka Williams was selected to The Associated Press All-Big 12 Conference team, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Kansas Jayhawks running back Pooka Williams Jr. announced on Monday that he is opting out of the remainder of the 2020 college football season.  

He explained in his announcement he is doing so "to be closer to my mother and family in Louisiana," adding that his mother is "battling health issues." Williams also thanked head coach Les Miles and said he believes the former LSU coach has the program heading in the right direction despite an 0-4 start to the campaign:

"We fully support Pooka's decision to opt out of the season to be able to support his mother in person during this difficult time as she fights this battle," Miles said in a statement, per Scott Chasen of 247Sports. "I'm proud of him for making this tremendous sacrifice to support his family and do what he believes is right. We will be there for Pooka and his family in every way possible moving forward."

While Kansas traditionally struggles on the gridiron, Williams has been a rare bright spot in terms of on-field production.

He arrived as a 4-star prospect in the recruiting class of 2018, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and ran for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns while mixing in 289 yards and two scores through the air as a freshman. He even threw for a touchdown and appeared well on his way to superstardom.

Williams then followed up with 1,042 rushing yards, 214 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2019.

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He often put up those numbers without much support up front, as Pro Football Focus noted his 33 percent forced missed tackle rate was the highest for any Big 12 running back since the 2014 season.

The junior was off to a much slower start this year, though, and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry through his first four games. He was also yet to even reach 80 yards on the ground in a single contest, although he scored twice against Baylor.

Kansas next faces Kansas State in a rivalry clash on Saturday.