IRVING, Texas – Kansas senior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, while freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr. earned conference Newcomer of the Week honors, announced by the league offices on Tuesday.
Dineen Jr. earned the Defensive Player of the Week nod after leading the Kansas defense in a 31-7 road win over Central Michigan on Saturday. Totaling 14 tackles (8 solo), .5 tackles-for-loss and one quarterback hurry, Dineen Jr. also recorded his first-career interception in the third quarter of the game. His 14 stops marked the 17th time in his career the Lawrence, Kansas native notched double-digit tackles and was the second this season after posting 16 total takedowns in the season opener.
Williams Jr. made his Kansas debut against Central Michigan, where he totaled 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while adding eight receiving yards on one catch in the game. His 125 rushing yards came on 14 carries, giving him an average of 8.9 yards per rush. The Marrero, Louisiana product broke off a 20-yard run in the third quarter to score his first-career touchdown, then came back on his very next touch with a 41-yard scamper down the sideline for his second score of the game. His rushing efforts made him the first KU freshman to record 100-plus rushing yards in their career debut since James Sims ran for 101 yards against Georgia Tech in 2010.
The awards mark the first conference weekly honors for the Jayhawks this season and are the first since October 30 of last season when Steven Sims Jr. earned Co-Offensive Player of the Week Honors. Dineen Jr. was the last Jayhawk to earn a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week nod, doing so last season. With Dineen Jr. and Williams Jr. picking up awards this week, it marks the third-straight season multiple Jayhawks have been recognized with weekly conference honors.
Dineen Jr.’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honor marks the 17th for the Kansas football program, while Williams Jr.’s Newcomer of the Week is the first for KU since the award’s inception in 2016.