MANHATTAN — When William Powell transferred to Kansas State last year, he did so for the love of football and his late mother, Darla.
Growing up in Duncanville, Texas, he dreamt of one day playing college football in the Big 12. She hoped he would one day earn a degree from a major university.
"She was really behind me in the football and school aspect," said Powell of his mother, who died of cancer last December. "She was an educator."
So when Wildcats coach Bill Snyder first contacted him at Navarro Junior College and invited him to play for K-State, it didn't much matter that he wasn't offering a scholarship.
For the chance to chase two lifelong goals, Powell was fine with paying his own way as a walk-on.
But that didn't stop the senior running back from quietly celebrating when Snyder called him into his office eight days ago and awarded him a scholarship for his hard work backing up Daniel Thomas and contributing on special teams.
Returning four kickoffs for 116 yards the next day against Iowa State and earning Big 12 special teams player of the week honors added to his glee.
"It feels great," Powell said. "I've been working hard, and it's showing on the field."
As a running back, his speed is considered a nice change of pace to Thomas' bruising running style. He has piled up 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts and played a prominent role as a kick and punt returner. In a pinch, Snyder said he'll use him at wide receiver.
Not bad for a guy whose only stats a year ago were two tackles.
"He gives you what you see," Snyder said of Powell. "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. He is on some other special teams units in which he plays well and aggressively. He is a marvelous young person."
Hearing such kind words from the man he chose to pay to play for makes his face light up.
The only thing that would make his newfound success more enjoyable would be the chance to share it with his mom.
"It would have meant a lot to her," Powell said. "She loved football. She was big on my success. She was part of the reason I came here. It probably would have meant the world to her."