MANHATTAN (AP) — When William Powell received a text message recently instructing him to report to the football office, he had a hunch it was good news.
A walk-on, Powell’s hard work and performance had been rewarded. When Kansas State hosts Central Florida on Saturday, Powell will take the field for the first time as a scholarship player.
As soon as he got the news, the senior running back immediately headed for head coach Bill Snyder’s office and thanked him.
“I appreciate that because that’s the kind of guy he is,” Snyder said. “Any time you do something for him, he’ll respond in the right way, and he did, and he was pleased about it and was very grateful.”
The senior earned his scholarship by contributing on special teams units and providing a quick-hitting complement to Kansas State’s No. 1 running back, Daniel Thomas.
There was a hint of sadness for Powell, too. His mother died of cancer last year, and he wished she could have lived to see him realize his dream of landing a scholarship to a major college football program.
“She loved football,” Powell said. “She was big on my success. She was part of the reason I came here. It probably would’ve meant the world to her.”
Powell ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games, against UCLA and Missouri State, and is averaging more than 11 yards per run. Then last week in a victory over Iowa State, he had 116 yards in kick returns and was named Big 12 special teams player of the week.
“One of my initiatives is to get on the field in as many areas as I can,” Powell said. “I play a lot of special teams and I played a little bit of receiver last year.”
Most important, Powell is a dangerous back who allows Kansas State (3-0) to rest Thomas, who trails only Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in rushing yards per game (184).
“We have confidence in William,” he said. “It’s not like we’re dropping off the table when we make that substitution. William’s a formidable running back, does a nice job for us.”
A native of Duncanville, Tex., Powell grew up on football. While his dream as a kid was to play for some Texas college — any Texas college — he wound up at Kansas State, playing for a coach who’s well known in Texas.
Snyder and Powell’s mother were two big factors in the decision to come to K-State.
“Coach Snyder was a big part,” Powell said. “She was a big part also. She was really behind me in football and school aspect. She was an educator, so she was big on school. And on football, she was behind me 100 percent. “
Snyder said he was not surprised that Powell came right in to thank him for the scholarship.
“He’s a very humble young person, a very pleasant young man, and more than solid,” said Snyder. “A good, good person, good guy to be around.”