He only played nine games this year, but that didn’t stop William Powell from hauling in his fair share of postseason awards.
The Kansas State senior returner/backup running back, who rushed for 249 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries and led the nation with a kickoff-return average of 34.6 yards, has been mentioned in all sorts of All-America teams lately.
Third team by Rivals.com. Fourth team by Phil Steele. Honorable mention by Sports Illustrated.
While nothing could make up for not being able to play the final three games, those honors certainly helped ease his pain after suffering a season-ending injury against Texas.
With a medical boot on his left foot, Powell discussed his roller-coaster season at length this week. Here are the highlights of that conversation:
How difficult was it to go through an injury like that when you were playing so well?
It was very devastating that I found out that I probably wouldn’t play anymore during the season, but I didn’t let it get to me the way people probably would think. I always say everything happens for a reason. I take the bad things and try to view them in a positive light.
It looked like it happened against Texas while you were scoring a touchdown. Is that right?
I’ve seen the picture of the exact moment of when it happened. Exactly when my left foot was entering the end zone and my right foot was behind me. It was the exact moment I scored the touchdown.
Wow. So you score a touchdown and that’s your reward?
(Laughs) I guess so.
Could you tell the injury was that bad right away?
When I first went down I got up and walked. I really didn’t think it would really be anything bad, because I had never gotten injured before that badly. I didn’t think it would be anything that major.
Do you consider it a freak accident?
It kinda was. Just the way it happened and what happened, it really was. It could have happened to anybody and was unexpected.
How would you rate your season overall?
I would rate the season as a good season. I feel like we, as a team, felt like there were a couple of games we could have come out and done a little bit better and gotten a few more wins in there. But all around we feel like it’s a good season and we just want to get one more win.
Will you make the trip to the Pinstripe Bowl?
You’re moving around pretty decently. Any chance you play?
Most likely not.
But there is a chance?
I don’t know … (Long laughter) … I’ve been doing my treatment really hard with my foot to get back as soon as possible. It’s been going good. I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve been working hard on that. I’ve been helping my teammates do everything I can to help them.
Do you see yourself playing professionally?
I would love to play on the next level. It would be a great experience. I would use the same hard work that I used to do some things here and try to do it on the next level.
What is your reaction to all these awards?
I was really kind of surprised when I found out a couple of awards I received, knowing that I didn’t play the last three games. But I was very appreciative of it. I just want to thank my teammates around me, helping me on the field, from my kickoff return unit to my line to my receivers for all helping me to get those.
What have you done during games since your injury?
I went to a couple of the games after I got injured. I stayed up here (the Vanier Football Complex) for two of the games, and went to the North Texas game and watched it to support my team.
Was that tough at all?
On one hand it was kinda hard. We struggled a little bit and I couldn’t do anything about it. It was hard for me to hold back because I have a great passion for the game. On the other hand it was fun for me to be able to sit back and watch my teammates work together and cheer them on.
How happy were you to see Aubrey Quarles return one for a score?
I was cheering on the sideline. I wanted to run beside him, but I couldn’t. I was happy to see that. When I got hurt we kind of got hurt on kickoff return. I didn’t want anyone to think that the kickoff return unit was just not blocking as well as it was for me. But when Aubrey broke that it put us back near the top in terms of kickoff returns.
You didn’t get a ton of carries when you were healthy. Do you wish you received more?
Yes, any running back would wish they got to run more. I would like to get the ball as many times as possible.
Was there a point during the season that you completely embraced the role of a dangerous kick returner?
Yeah. I made sure that no matter how many carries I got to come in and make sure I really contributed to make the offense and team better.
And finally, what did this senior season mean to you?
It means a lot to me. I’m appreciative of it. I was happy I was able to do some great things this season. I just wish I was able to do even more.