Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/21/11

Later this afternoon, the Doak Walker Award finalists will be announced.

As I have done the last two weeks in breaking down each semifinalist, today I do the same as well as make a projection of who I feel should be the three remaining finalist for this prestigious award.

Following this weekend, one player in my eyes made a huge jump, and now resides atop my list.

Here are the basics on the award, including my favorites:

THE AWARD:

On Thursday, December 8th 2011 the Doak Walker Award will be given out to the nation’s most elite running back for a combination of accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community.

This combination of academia, athletic prowess and the requirement that the recipient must be on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification, makes it – in my eyes – one of premiere awards a College Football player can be awarded.

Unlike the Heisman, the Doak Walker Award is given purely based on the aforementioned criteria. It is not a popularity contest, not an unspoken prerequisite that your team must be contending for the National Championship, you must excel on and off the field.

The Semifinalist: 11/21 Update


Montee Ball, Wisconsin

223 rushes – 1466 yards – 25 touchdowns

Per game averages: 20.27 rush attempts  –  133.27 yards. (6.57 yards per rush)

Receiving: 16 receptions for 233 yards – and 5 touchdowns.

Last Game: Montee Ball pounded and pounded and pounded on Illinois this past weekend in a 28-17 victory for the Badgers. Versus the 24th ranked rush defense in the country, Ball ran 38 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

With now 30 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns, Ball is making a strong push to become the Doak Walker Award winner.

Up Next: Wisconsin will take on Penn State next week

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 11/19: at Illinois (24th) – 38 rushes – 233 yards – 2 TDs
  • 11/05: Purdue (85th) – 20 rushes 223 yards 3 TDs
  • 11/12: Minnesota (101st) – 23 rushes 166 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/01: Nebraska (74th) – 30 rushes 151 yards 4 TDs
  • 10/15: Indiana (117th) – 14 rushes 142 yards 3 TDs
  • 9/10: Oregon State (83rd) – 18 rushes 118 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/22: at Michigan State (10th) – 18 rushes 115 yards TD
  • 9/17: Northern Illinois (90th) – 20 rushes 91 yards 2 TDs
  • 9/24: South Dakota – 15 rushes 88 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/29: at Ohio State (42nd) – 17 rushes 85 yards TD
  • 9/01: UNLV (96th) – 10 rushes 63 yards 3 TDs

 

Rex Burkhead, Nebraska

222 rushes – 1108 yards – 14 TDs

Per game averages: 20.18 rush attempts – 100.73 yards (4.99 yards per rush)

Receiving: 15 receptions – 130 yards – 2 TDs

Last Game: Burkhead only managed to get 10 carries against Michigan, getting dominated (like his teammates) by the Michigan's defense.  Burkhead is not closing well, and his 10 carries and 36 yards all but eliminates him from the Doak Walker conversation.

Up Next: Nebraska will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes next week, but Burkhead will not be a finalist for the Doak Walker Award.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 9/24: at Wyoming (116th) – 15 rushes 170 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/29: Michigan State (10th) – 35 rushes 130 yards 2 TDs
  • 11/12: at Penn State (34th) – 25 rushes 121 yards TD
  • 9/17: Washington (60st) – 22 rushes 120 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/08: Ohio State (42nd) – 26 rushes 119 yards TD
  • 10/22: at Minnesota (101st) – 23 rushes 117 yards TD
  • 10/01: at Wisconsin (44th) – 18 rushes 96 yards TD
  • 9/03: Chattanooga – 11 rushes 75 yards TD
  • 11/05: Northwestern (94th) – 22 rushes 69 yards TD
  • 9/10: Fresno St (78th) – 15 rushes 55 yards 2 TDs
  • 11/19: at Michigan (40th) – 10 rushes 36 yards

 

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State

226 rushes – 1286 yards – 13 TDs

Per game averages: 22.60 rush attempts – 128.60 yards (5.69 yards per rush)

Receiving: 18 receptions – 209 yards – TD

Last Game: Ronnie Hillman was a game time decision for the Aztecs Saturday.  He did manage to get in, but finished with only three carries for eight yards.

Up Next: Next week San Diego State travels to UNLV, but I do not expect Ronnie Hillman to remain on the list of finalist for the Doak Walker Award.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/29: Wyoming (116th)– 25 rushes 224 yards 2 TDs
  • 9/17: Washington St (65th) – 32 rushes 191 yards 4 TDs
  • 9/03: Cal Poly – 28 rushes 189 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/13: at Air Force (110th) – 27 rushes 172 yards 2 TDs
  • 11/05: New Mexico (120th) – 29 rushes 141 yards TD
  • 9/10: at Army (87th) – 17 rushes 117 yards 2 TDs
  • 9/24: at Michigan (40th) – 21 rushes 109 yards
  • 11/12: at Colorado State (113th) – 24 rushes 80 yards
  • 10/08: TCU (32nd) – 20 rushes 55 yards
  • 11/19: Boise St (38th) – 3 rushes 8 yards

 

LaMichael James, Oregon

173 rushes – 1285 yards – 13 TDs

Per game averages: 19.22 rushes – 142.78 yards (7.43 yards per rush)

Receiving: 14 receptions – 180 yards – TD

Last Game: Last year’s Doak Walker Award winner had a remarkable game versus Stanford rushing 20 times for 146 yards. This week versus Southern California, James was not as lucky. Monte Kiffin and company shut down the all-world running back, holding him to 78 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Up Next: Oregon will take on their bitter rival, the Oregon State Beavers next week. If James remains on this list, he will need a Stanford-esque performance.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 9/24: at Arizona (76th) – 23 rushes – 288 yards 2 TDs
  • 10/06: California (25th) – 30 rushes – 239 yards TD
  • 9/17: Southwest Missouri St – 12 rushes – 204 yards 3 TDs
  • 11/05: at Washington (60th) – 25 rushes – 156 yards TD
  • 11/12: at Stanford (6th) – 20 rushes – 146 yards 3 TDs
  • 11/19: USC (16th) – 20 rushes – 78 yards
  • 9/10: Nevada (59th) – 12 rushes – 67 yards TD
  • 9/03: LSU (4th) – 18 rushes – 54 yards TD
  • 10/29: Washington St (65th) – 13 rushes – 53 yards
  • DNP versus California or at Colorado

 

Henry Josey, Missouri

145 rushes – 1,168 yards – nine touchdowns.

Per game averages: 14.50 rushes – 116.80 yards (8.06 yards per rush)

Receiving: 10 receptions – 91 yards

Last Game: Josey tore his ACL in last week’s game, ending his season.

Next Game: Out for the Season

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 9/17: Western Illinois – 14 rushes – 263 yards – 3 TDs
  • 10/29: at Texas A&M (15th) – 20 rushes – 162 yards – TD
  • 10/22: Oklahoma State (91st) – 25 rushes – 138 yards
  • 9/24: at Oklahoma (39th) – 14 rushes – 133 yards – TD
  • 11/05: at Baylor (108th) – 15 rushes – 132 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/15: Iowa State (95th) – 19 rushes – 129 yards – TD
  • 9/09: at Arizona St (49th) – 9 rushes – 94 yards
  • 10/08: at Kansas St (29th) – 12 rushes – 55 yards – TD
  • 9/03: Miami (OH) (68th) – 5 rushes – 43 yards
  • 11/12: Texas (8th) – 11 rushes 19 yards

 

Zach Line, SMU

208 rushes – 1,224 yards – 17 TDs

Per game averages: 20.80 rushes – 122.40 yards (5.88 yards per rush)

Receiving: 15 receptions – 139 yards

Last Game: Zach Line had surgery Thursday afternoon to repair a torn tendon in his foot. He did not play versus Houston and will miss the rest of the season.

Next Game:

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/22: at Southern Miss (35th) – 22 rushes – 163 yards
  • 11/05: Tulane (75th) – 25 rushes – 143 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/24: at Memphis (88th) – 20 rushes – 136 yards – 3 TDs
  • 11/12: Navy (79th) – 24 rushes – 135 yards
  • 9/04: at Texas A&M (15th) – 22 rushes – 128 yards – TD
  • 10/01: at TCU (32nd) – 21 rushes – 120 yards
  • 10/29: at Tulsa (45th) – 22 rushes – 118 yards – TD
  • 9/10: UTEP (89th) – 20 rushes – 114 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/17: Northwestern St – 16 rushes – 85 yards – 5 TDs
  • 10/15: UCF (19th) – 16 rushes – 82 yards – 2 TDs

 

Chris Polk, Washington

241 rushes – 1,241 yards – 10 TDs

Per game averages: 21.91 rushes – 112.82 yards (5.15 yards per rush)

Receiving: 27 receptions – 288 yards three TDs

Last Game: Chris Polk rushed 25 times  for 109 yards in a loss to Oregon State. He did not add any touchdowns to his total, which will not help him remain among the finalists for the Doak Walker Award.

Next Game: Washington will take on Washington State next week.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/01: at Utah (9th) – 29 rushes – 189 yards
  • 10/22: at Stanford (6th) – 15 rushes – 144 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/29: Arizona (76th) – 34 rushes – 144 yards – 4 TDs
  • 9/17: at Nebraska (74th) – 22 rushes – 130 yards – TD
  • 9/03: Eastern Washington – 23 rushes – 125 yards
  • 10/15: Colorado (97th) – 18 rushes – 117 yards
  • 11/19: at Oregon St (83rd) – 20 rushes – 109 yards
  • 9/10: Hawaii (48th) – 22 rushes – 107 yards – TD
  • 11/05: Oregon (57th) – 24 rushes – 80 yards
  • 9/24: California (25th) – 20 rushes – 60 yards – TD
  • 11/12: at Southern Cal (16th) – 9 rushes – 36 yards – TD

 

Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

179 rushes – 1042 yards – 21 TDs

Per game averages: 16.27 rushes – 94.73 yards (5.82 yards per rush)

Receiving: 34 receptions – 207 yards – 2 TDs

Last Game: Oklahoma State was upset by Iowa State Saturday 37-31, and in the process Randle – the touchdown machine – was not helped in his bid for the Doak Walker Award. Randle only carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards, but most importantly he did not add to his impressive touchdown total.

Next Game: Next week Randle will play in the Bedlam game versus Oklahoma.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/29: Baylor (108th) – 14 rushes – 152 yards – 4 TDs
  • 10/22: at Missouri (51st) – 14 rushes – 138 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/03: Louisiana-Lafayette (58th) – 22 rushes – 129 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/17: at Tulsa (45th) – 25 rushes – 128 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/08: Arizona (76th) – 15 rushes – 121 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/24: at Texas A&M (15th) – 21 rushes – 83 yards
  • 11/12: at Texas Tech (119th) – 18 rushes – 78 yards – 3 TDs
  • 11/05: Kansas St (29th) – 16 rushes – 73 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/15: at Texas (8th) – 17 rushes – 68 yards – TD
  • 11/19: Iowa St (95th) - 10 rushes - 49 yards
  • 10/08: Kansas (118th) – 7 rushes – 23 yards – TD

 

Trent Richardson, Alabama

236 rushes – 1,380 yards – 20 TDs

Per game averages: 21.45 rushes – 125.45 yards (5.85 yards per rush)

Receiving: 26 receptions – 322 yards – 2 TDs

Last Game: Alabama went up against a very good sub-division team in Georgia Southern, and while “performances” against these schools are not Heisman worthy, the Doak Walker Award is truly about your season-long production. Trent Richardson did not hurt himself Saturday by rushing for 175 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns. It was a season high for carries, and Richardson’s third highest number of yards.  Trent now has 22 touchdowns in all this season.

Next Game: Trent Richardson – and Alabama – take on their hated rival, the Auburn Tigers next week.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 10/15: at Mississippi (112th) – 15 rushes – 183 yards – 4 TDs
  • 10/01: at Florida (52nd) – 29 rushes – 181 yards – 2 TDs
  • 11/19: Georgia Southern – 32 carries – 175 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/17: North Texas (71st) – 11 rushes – 167 yards – 3 TDs
  • 9/24: Arkansas (70th) – 17 rushes – 126 yards
  • 9/10: at Penn State (34th) – 26 rushes – 111 yards – 2 TDs
  • 10/08: Vanderbilt (22nd) – 19 rushes – 107 yards – TD
  • 11/05: LSU (4th) – 23 rushes – 89 yards
  • 10/22: Tennessee (66th) – 17 rushes – 77 yards – 2 TDs
  • 9/03: Kent State (23rd) – 13 rushes – 37 yards – 3 TDs

 

David Wilson, Virginia Tech

231 rushes – 1,442 yards – 7 TDs

Per game averages: 21 rushes – 131.09 yards (6.24 yards per rush)

Receiving: 17 receptions – 107 yards – TD

Last Game: David Wilson was held under 100 yards for only the second time this season by the North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday. Troubling, however, is that David Wilson has not scored a touchdown rushing since October 22nd, versus Boston College. David Wilson rushed 21 times for 82 yards versus UNC. David Wilson’s two worst rushing performances came against the two best rush defenses he has seen this season.

Next Game: David Wilson should have a nice spotlight next weekend versus the Virginia Cavaliers. He will need one more big game, and some scores to boot.

Top Games vs opponent (national rank in rush defense – to date)

  • 11/10: at Georgia Tech (72nd) – 23 rushes – 175 yards
  • 9/03: Appalachian St – 16 rushes – 162 yards – 3 TDs
  • 10/29: at Duke (80th) – 23 rushes – 148 yards
  • 9/10: at East Carolina (81st) – 25 rushes – 137 yards
  • 10/15: at Wake Forest (59th) – 17 rushes – 136 yards – TD
  • 10/22: Boston College (62nd) – 17 rushes – 134 yards – TD
  • 9/24: at Marshall (64th) – 26 rushes – 132 yards – TD
  • 10/08: Miami (FL) (68th) – 23 rushes – 128 yards
  • 10/01: Clemson (86th)– 20 rushes – 123 yards
  • 9/17: Arkansas St (17th)– 20 rushes – 85 yards – TD
  • 11/17: North Carolina (18th) – 21 rushes – 82 yards

 

THE CUT:

LaMichael James – Oregon

Joseph Randle – Oklahoma State

Rex Burkhead – Nebraska

Zach Line – SMU

Ronnie Hillman – San Diego State

Chris Polk – Washington

Henry Josey – Missouri

 

THE PROJECTED DOAK WALKER AWARD FINALISTS:

  1. Montee Ball – Wisconsin
  2. Trent Richardson – Alabama
  3. David Wilson – Virginia Tech
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