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81 Days Until Kansas Football: Pooka Williams vs the KU Recordbook

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NCAA Football: Rutgers at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The thought just popped into my head: I bet Pooka Williams is on pace to shatter some rushing records at Kansas. Granted, he’s only played two seasons, but, as we learned last week, he’s already closing in on being in the top-5 at Kansas in career rushing yards.

Only two Jayhawks have averaged over 6.0 yards per carry in their college career (minimum 150 carries): Laverne Smith and Gale Sayers, both of whom averaged 6.5 ypc. Pooka Williams currently sits at exactly 6.0 ypc after 364 rushing attempts.

How else does Pooka measure up to potentially setting some school records? Let’s take a look. (Stats per sports-reference.com.)

Career Rushing

June Henley (1993-96) currently sits atop the career rushing yard list with 3,841 yards. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Pooka is currently at 2,186 yards, just 1,655 behind Henley. This means if Pooka stays for his senior season, he will only need to average 828 yards per season - or 69 yards per game - each of the next two years to overtake Henley. Additionally, Henley “only” averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his career, meaning if Pooka maintains his current pace, he’ll do it in much fewer attempts.

Alternatively, if Pooka were to break Henley’s record in 2020, he would need to play in all 12 games and average 138 yards per game.

Single Season Rushing

Jon Cornish is the current leader in this category, with 1,457 yards in 2006. Pooka is actually currently 10th on this list with his 1,125 his freshman season of 2018. So, I think Pooka has a decent shot at breaking this record as well, and if he does, it becomes even more likely he overtakes June Henley for the career mark. And obviously, if he overtakes Henley’s career rushing mark as a junior, he’ll easily take Cornish’s single season mark with it.

Single Game Rushing

Anyone know this one? Bueller? Of COURSE you do! It’s Tony Sands, in 1991 vs Missouri, with 396 yards on 58 carries, and on senior day no less. (And FYI, that effort vaulted Sands up to the #2 spot in career rushing yards with 3,788.) Pooka, however, is also on the single game rushing top-10 list as well, at #6 with his 252-yard effort against Oklahoma in 2018.

While I doubt we see Pooka get 58 carries in a single game at any point during his career, I do think he has an outside shot at this record as well. If he can put up 250+ in Norman, he’s a threat to go off against anyone.

Career Rushing Touchdowns

June Henley leads in this category as well, with 41 rushing touchdowns as a Jayhawk. Pooka will have some work to do here, as he has just 10 rushing touchdowns in 22 games so far for Kansas. Despite the impressive rushing totals, Pooka is currently on pace to have less than half of Henley’s total career TDs.

Single Season Rushing Touchdowns

Hey, whaddya know, it’s June Henley again, this time with 17 rushing touchdowns in 1996. Pooka’s high so far was 7 in his freshman season of 2018, so while this is potentially in reach, it just seems as if it’s more likely that he won’t reach this one either.

Single Game Rushing Touchdowns

I should make this a trivia question. The first person to name all seven Jayhawks who are tied with 4 rushing TDs in one game wins a lifetime membership to RCT. No cheating!

Considering Pooka’s single season high is seven, four in one game once again seems like a long shot. But how willing are you to bet against it?

Conclusion

So what shall we say, then? Assuming Pooka Williams stays through his senior year and maintains similar numbers to what he’s already put up, it’s highly likely he will end up as the career rushing leader at Kansas. I think he has a decent shot - 50/50? - of breaking the single season and single game rushing records as well.

However, it doesn’t seem like he’s in the running for any of the touchdown records. I would think his best shot there would be single game touchdowns, but so far in his Kansas career, his just hasn’t found the end zone often enough to seriously threaten career or even single season rushing TDs.

Trivia Answer

OK fine. Seven Jayhawks are tied with 4 rushing touchdowns in a single game.

They are (scroll down):

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Charlie Black, 1923 vs Washington (St. Louis)

Curtis McClinton, 1961 vs Cal

Tony Sands, 1991 vs Missouri

June Henley, 1996 vs TCU

Brandon McAnderson, 2007 vs Nebraska

Jake Sharp, 2008 vs K-State

James Sims, 2010 vs Colorado