Jayhawks ready for return of Pooka Williams

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Jayhawk players aren't even fazed anymore by the talent of Pooka Williams.

"He's just pretty routine at making incredible plays at this point," quarterback Carter Stanley said.

Those are what head coach Les Miles calls "Pooka plays." And they return to Lawrence on Saturday when KU hosts Coastal Carolina. Miles won't limit his most talented weapon and doesn't think he'll have any rust when getting back on the field.

"I think he's a very strong player," Miles said. "We're looking forward to having him back, I can tell you that."

KU suspended Williams for its season-opening win against Indiana State due to a domestic battery charge that previously led to a seven-month suspension from team activities. Miles said Williams has not addressed the team regarding that situation yet, but plans to do so.

The Preseason All-Big 12 running back rejoined the team for the start of fall camp, where teammates have seen more maturity and leadership out of him as well as the special traits that helped the 2018 Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year shine.

"It seems like he does something new every day that kind of impresses us, to be honest," Stanley said.

"He's just being more of a vocal leader because he knows he's not a freshman anymore," running back Dom Williams said.

"His feel of the game, it's slowed down for him so much," running back Khalil Herbert said. "He's able to understand defensive schemes, to understand where the blitz is coming from just from looking at alignments."

Williams will try to follow up a debut campaign that saw him rush for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers helped him become the first Jayhawk freshman to be named All-Big 12 First Team at any position.

"I'm excited to see what he's going to do this week," running back Khalil Herbert said. "He has some more stuff up his sleeve that I think he'll show."

He shouldn't only provide a spark when he has the ball either. The presence of a playmaker like Williams should open up more of KU's offense.

"You got to know where he is at all times," offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji said. "He's a threat every single play to take it to the house. And on a play-to-play basis, that can change up your whole scheme defensively."