2023 Doak Walker Award (Top Running Back) Watchlist

August 9, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

The 2023 Doak Walker Award committee released the names of 71 players expected to compete for the trophy in 2022.

Last season's winner, Texas's Bijan Robinson, was drafted as the No. 8 over-all pick by the Atlanta Falcons after finishing 9th in the Heisman voting..

The 2021 winner, Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State, was the NFL's 12th-leading rusher in 2022 as he ran for 1,050 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Seattle Seahawks. He added 27 pass receptions for 165 yards. Walker was taken in the 2nd round and was the No. 41 overall selection in the 2021.

UCLA's Carson Steel (Jr.) is the top 2022 statistical leader on the 2023 list. Last year, Steel ranked 8th after averaging nearly 130 yards per game and scoring 14 touchdowns for Ball State. He committed to the Bruins out of the transfer portal on January 4.

No running back has won the Heisman since Alabama's Derrick Henry in 2015, and the best Heisman odds on any running back at that position this year go to Clemson's Will Shipley. The last Clemson player to win any individual award was linebacker Isaiah Simmons in 2019 when he captured the Butkus Award.

All but one of last year's top 7 rushers were drafted by various NFL teams, or signed as a rookie free agent. But Air Force's Brad Roberts, who topped all rushers with 1,728 yards was undrafted and unsigned. He was later invited to the Washington Commanders' minicamp after getting permission to delay his military service.

UAB's DeWayne McBride led the nation in rushing yards per game with 155.73 while gaining 1,713 yards and scoring 19 TD's in 11 games. He missed the season-opener due to an illness and did not play in the bowl win over Miami, Ohio to protect his draft status. He lasted until round 7 where was taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 22nd pick.

Minnesota's Mohamed Ibrahim was undrafted but signed with the Detroit Lions, while Illinois' Chase Brown was a 5th-round pick by Cincinnati, and UCLA's Zach Charbonnet was selected by the Seahawks in the second round where he joins the aforementioned Kenneth Walker.

Blake Corum (Sr.) of Michigan was right behind Steele. He ran for 1,463 yards and scored 18 touchdowns, but missed most of the Ohio State game, the B1G Championship win over Purdue, and the College Football Playoff loss to TCU after suffering a torn meniscus and sprained ACL. The injury likely occurred in the 11th regular season game against Illinois, which he left late in the first half after already amassing 108 yards and a TD. He tried to play against Ohio State, but left that game with just 6 yards on2 carries.

The New York Jets took Israel Abanikanda in round 5 out of the Pitt Panthers. Abanikanda ran for 1,431 yards and 20 scores in 11 games while averaging 130 yards per game.

Some of the other top returners from 2022 who are found on this year's list are Quinshon Judkins (So.) of Ole Miss, and Raheim Sanders (Jr.) of Arkansas. Judkins had 1,565 yards and 16 scores in 2022, while Sanders gained 1,443 yards and scored 10 times for the Razorbacks.

Two of the main reasons that the Tennessee Volunteers are thought to be a top threat to win the SEC are running backs Jaylen Wright (So.) and Jabari Small (Jr.). Both return after productive 2022 campaigns that saw Wright lead the team with 875 yards and a 6-yard per carry average. Small gained 734 yards and bested Wright's TD total of 10 by rushing for 13 scores.

One of the top rushers from 2022 who is not on this year's list is Marquez Cooper who transferred from Kent State to Ball State after racking up 1,331 yards and 13 TD's for the Golden Flashes.

2023 Preseason WatchList

·  Emani Bailey, TCU
·  Sieh Bangura, Ohio
·  Jovantae Barnes, Oklahoma
·  Kevorian Barnes, UTSA
·  Trey Benson, Florida State
·  Tahj Brooks, Texas Tech
·  Antario Brown, NIU
·  Jermaine Brown Jr., UAB
·  Noah Cain, LSU
·  Marcus Carroll, Georgia State
·  Blake Corum, Michigan
·  Marquis Crosby, Louisiana Tech
·  CJ Donaldson Jr., West Virginia
·  Donovan Edwards, Michigan
·  Justice Ellison, Wake Forest
·  Davion Ervin-Poindexter, WKU
·  Audric Estime', Notre Dame
·  Samson Evans, Eastern Michigan
·  Pat Garwo, Boston College
·  Rodney Hammond Jr., Pitt
·  Deion Hankins, UTEP
·  Rahjai Harris, East Carolina
·  RJ Harvey, UCF
·  Roman Hemby, Maryland
·  TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State
·  Daniel Hishaw Jr., Kansas
·  George Holani, Boise State
·  Bucky Irving, Oregon
·  Kaleb Johnson, Iowa
·  Kobe Johnson, Colorado State
·  Austin Jones, USC
·  Jawhar Jordan, Louisville
·  Quinshon Judkins, Ole Miss
·  Reggie Love III, Illinois
·  Jaylin Lucas, Indiana
·  Jo’Quavious Marks, Mississippi State
·  Damien Martinez, Oregon State
·  Tony Mathis Jr., Houston
·  Alton McCaskill, Colorado
·  Josh McCray, Illinois
·  Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin
·  Devin Mockobee, Purdue
·  Devin Neal, Kansas
·  Nate Noel, App State
·  Jaydn Ott, California
·  Frank Peasant, Middle Tennessee
·  Richard Reese, Baylor
·  Aidan Robbins, BYU
·  Kairee Robinson, San Jose State
·  Raheim Sanders, Arkansas
·  Trey Sanders, TCU
·  Will Shipley, Clemson
·  Nicholas Singleton, Penn State
·  Cam Skattebo, Arizona State
·  Jabari Small, Tennessee
·  Dontae Smith, Georgia Tech
·  E.J. Smith, Stanford
·  Kavosiey Smoke, Colorado
·  Carson Steele, UCLA
·  Bhayshul Tuten, Virginia Tech
·  Kimani Vidal, Troy
·  Treshaun Ward, Kansas State
·  Dre'lyn Washington, Louisiana
·  Nakia Watson, Washington State
·  La'Damian Webb, South Alabama
·  Noah Whittington, Oregon
·  Michael Wiley, Arizona
·  Sy'veon Wilkerson, Colorado
·  Josh Williams, LSU
·  Miyan Williams, Ohio State
·  Jaylen Wright, Tennessee

About the List

Division I-A colleges and universities nominate running backs from their respective football teams who satisfy the following selection criteria:

  • Candidate plays predominantly at the running back position and has made extraordinary contributions to his team.
  • Candidate is enrolled in a degree program, is in good academic standing and is on schedule to graduate.
  • Candidate holds a record of good citizenship within and beyond the athletic sphere.
  • Candidate has demonstrated a record of leadership.
  • Candidate exhibits the characteristics of sportsmanship and fair play associated with Doak Walker.

In October, each Division I-A college or university is given the additional opportunity to nominate a candidate or to nominate a replacement for a preseason candidate who may not have performed according to preseason expectations.

Throughout the season, statistical updates are compiled by the Forum office and released to the media and National Selection Committee, which includes sportswriters, television commentators, analysts, radio sports personalities and former All-America and NFL All-Pro football players.

In mid-November, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors convenes to review the achievements of all candidates and votes to select ten semifinalists for the Award. The following day, the files of the semifinalists are forwarded to the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, who then votes to determine three finalists. The National Selection Committee will then cast a second vote to determine the winner.

The recipient of the Award is announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN, and presented with the Award at the Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet in Dallas.