To say that William Powell earned his K-State football scholarship is an under-statement.
Afterall, many K-Staters were wondering why he hasn’t been getting more touches as a running back, and his 31.7-yard average on kickoffs leads the Big 12, which speaks for itself.
Still, it wasn’t until last Friday that Powell received a “come to the football office” text.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that I had a hunch, but it's always in your head that this may be the time," Powell said of what he was thinking when he was asked to come in for a visit with coach Bill Snyder.
The news was good.
“It meant a lot to me,” Powell said of being notified that he was on scholarship. “Coach (Bill Snyder) just said how much he appreciated me, admired me, and thanked me for my hard work.”
Powell’s response was exactly like Snyder expected: “He came in and thanked me, and I appreciated that because that is the kind of guy that he is. Anytime I do something for him, he will respond in the right way. He did. He was pleased about it and was very grateful.”
Powell thanked Snyder again on Saturday with a performance of four kickoff returns that accounted for 116 yards in K-State’s 27-20 victory over Iowa State. The effort, which included a 45-yard take-back, and another return of 33 yards, helped earn Powell the weekly special teams award.
It was only natural for Powell to call his father, and think of his mother, who died this past December.
Of his dad, he said, “He was probably more happy than I was.”
And of his mother, Powell was instantly filled with emotion. After taking a moment to collect himself, and then through teary eyes, he said, “I owe her for so much of my success. She’s part of the reason why I came here. This would have met the world to her. Coach was a big reason that I came here, but she was also a big part.”
Powell, a 5-foot-9, 205-pound senior, grew up in Duncanville, Texas, and transferred to K-State out of Navarro Junior College, where he rushed for 937 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore, after a freshman season of 401 yards.
Declining to mention teams where he received scholarship offers, Powell chose to be a walk-on at Kansas State.
Of the decision, he said, “It was an opportunity to play under coach Snyder. Even in Texas, coach is known and admired. They talk highly of coach Snyder.”
Powell only played on special teams last year, but this spring emerged as Kansas State’s best running back … not named Daniel Thomas.
“He gives you what you see. He is a good running back. He is a good kickoff return guy and a patient young guy, which helps him be good at the two things that he is involved with right now,” said Snyder. “He plays well and aggressively. He is a marvelous young person. I always speak to Daniel Thomas in that manner, and that is one of the ways that he is very similar to Daniel. He is a very humble young person, pleasant young man and just a very solid good guy.”
Powell, who leads the Big 12 in kickoff returns at 31.7 yards, opened the year with a six-carry, 72-yard performance against UCLA, added 49 yards on four carries against Missouri State, and gained 13 yards on two totes against Iowa State.
That’s a total of 135 yards on 12 carries, or 11.2 yards per carry through the first three games. That more than equals Keithen Valentine’s performance of 30 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry last year as Thomas’ backup.
While Thomas literally carries defenders from
Point A to Point B, Powell is a quicker more elusive back.
“We have confidence in William. He can run all the plays. It’s not like we’re dropping off the table,” Snyder said when it comes to talent level. “Daniel needs a break from time to time, and we’ve seen William give him that.”
When kidded about being just as good as Thomas, Powell only laughed.
He calls Thomas “… an incredible running back and an incredible athlete. His athletic ability is amazing.”