Pooka Williams more than delivered this year on the promise the four-star recruit’s surprise commitment to Kansas football represented.
On Wednesday, the dynamic running back’s efforts were rewarded.
Williams was named the Big 12′s offensive freshman of the year in the conference’s annual awards, voted on by the league’s coaches. He joined linebacker Joe Dineen and defensive tackle Daniel Wise as the Jayhawks’ honorees on the All-Big 12 first team, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound New Orleans native a dual selection at both running back and kick returner.
Williams, who rushed for 1,125 yards and ranked sixth in FBS with 150.9 all-purpose yards per game, is the first freshman offensive player of the year and only freshman first-team selection in KU history. He accounted for 10 touchdowns this season — seven rushing, two receiving and one passing — and his 252 rushing yards in a Week 11 defeat at Oklahoma ranks sixth all-time in program history.
Hakeem Adeniji (offensive lineman) and Kyle Thompson (punter) were named All-Big 12 second-team selections, while Hasan Defense, Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden (defensive backs) and Gabriel Rui (kicker) rounded out the KU honorees as honorable mentions.
Kansas State’s Dalton Risner, meanwhile, was part of a three-way tie for the conference’s offensive lineman of the year award and paced five Wildcats named All-Big 12 selections. A first-teamer for a third straight year, Risner was joined by second-team picks Alex Barnes (running back) and Duke Shelley (defensive back) and honorable mentions Devin Anctil (punter) and Kyle Ball (defensive end).
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and West Virginia linebacker David Long were named the Big 12′s offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively, while OU’s Lincoln Riley and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell split coach of the year honors.
ALL-BIG 12 FOOTBALL
Quarterback: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Running back: Pooka Williams, Kansas; Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Fullback: Andrew Beck, Texas
Wide receiver: Marquise Brown, Oklahoma; Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State; David Sills, West Virginia
Tight end: Grant Calcaterra, Oklahoma; Trevon Wesco, West Virginia
Offensive line: Dalton Risner, Kansas State; Cody Ford, Oklahoma; Ben Powers, Oklahoma; Dru Samia, Oklahoma; Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
Place-kicker: Austin Seibert, Oklahoma; Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
Kick/punt returner: Pooka Williams, Kansas
Defensive line: Daniel Wise, Kansas; Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State; Ben Banogu, TCU; L.J. Collier, TCU; Charles Omenihu, Texas
Linebacker: Joe Dineen, Kansas; Dakota Allen, Texas Tech; David Long, West Virginia
Defensive back: Greg Eisworth, Iowa State; Kris Boyd, Texas; Caden Sterns, Texas; Adrian Frye, Texas Tech
Punter: Drew Galitz, Baylor
Offensive Player of the Year: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Defensive Player of the Year: David Long, West Virginia
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Jalen Hurd, Baylor
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Greg Eisworth, Iowa State
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Pooka Williams, Kansas
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Caden Sterns, Texas
Special Teams Player of the Year: Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
Co-Offensive Linemen of the Year: Dalton Risner, Kansas State; Dru Samia, Oklahoma; Todny Cajuste, West Virginia
Defensive Lineman of the Year: Charles Omenihu, Texas
Co-Chuck Neinas Coaches of the Year: Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma; Matt Campbell, Iowa State
Kansas: OL Hakeem Adeniji, P Kyle Thompson
Kansas State: RB Alex Barnes, DB Duke Shelley
Kansas: DB Mike Lee, DB Hasan Defense, DB Bryce Torneden, K Gabriel Rui
Kansas State: DE Kyle Ball, P Devin Anctil