LAWRENCE — Khalil Herbert has broken his silence on his unexpected Kansas football departure.
And according to the statement the former senior running back posted Thursday night to Twitter, the decision may not have gone down as previously thought.
In a letter addressed to the university, its fans and his teammates — “my bruddas,” Herbert called the last group — the Jayhawks’ leading rusher explained his late decision to sit out the team’s 51-14 defeat last Saturday at TCU. That contest would’ve represented Herbert’s fifth this season, one above the limit for a player to appear in while still receiving a redshirt.
KU officially announced Herbert’s departure from the program Wednesday. While Herbert now intends to graduate transfer elsewhere this offseason, he claimed that wasn’t his original plan.
“I am aware that things have been misinterpreted, but my intentions were not harmful," Herbert wrote. “I intended to come back for my redshirt senior year, not transfer or leave my teammates. Redshirting had many unforeseen consequences that my family and I did not know would result from this decision.
"Although things did not work out the way either side intended, I want you to know my intention was not to hurt the university, Jayhawk Nation, or my teammates."
Averaging 8.9 yards per carry this season, Herbert had already amassed 384 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He played an integral part in the team’s 48-24 upset victory at Boston College on Sept. 13, tallying 187 rushing yards and a score on just 11 attempts.
Barring injury, Herbert was likely always going to receive fewer carries than standout sophomore Pooka Williams, an All-Big 12 preseason selection. Herbert totaled 43 rush attempts across the team’s first four games, including a season-high 17 in the season opener against Indiana State, a contest Williams didn’t appear in due to a one-game suspension.
Williams is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this year, down from the 7-yard clip achieved as a freshman.
"To my bruddas, I love and miss you already," Herbert wrote to his teammates. "I'm sorry things turned out the way they did because this was the last thing I wanted. There was nothing more I loved (than) grinding, taking the field, and just being with you all each and every day. I wish you guys nothing but success this season and I'm always here if you guys need anything. ...
"What's understood doesn't have to be explained, you all know the love I have for you guys!"
Williams and several other KU players quoted Herbert’s tweeted and included messages of support.
"Free 10," added junior wide receiver Andrew Parchment, referencing Herbert's former jersey number.
"Bro foreva," wrote senior defensive end Codey Cole.
KU plays host to No. 6 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.