Last season, Montee Ball stormed through the Big Ten, right into the list of finalists for a couple postseason awards. He was a Heisman Finalists and a Doak Walker Finalist in 2011. The running back from Wisconsin, who posted 1,923 yards, 137 yards per game and a whopping 33 touchdowns, failed to take home any of that hardware. Robert Griffin III carried home the Heisman, while Trent Richardson took home the Doak Walker with less yards, yards per game and touchdowns.
This year Richardson is in the NFL and Montee Ball is back at Wisconsin looking to continue his assault on the record books, this time with a trophy or two to take home come December. The Doak Walker Award Watch List debuted today (via smu.edu) and, as expected, it reads like a who's who of college football's solid running backs: representatives from all of the leagues, guys from a myriad of different systems and plenty of players who will put up some great statistics.
Around the nation, UNC's Giovani Bernard, TCU's Waymon James and Matthew Tucker, Cal's Isi Sofele, Notre Dame's Cierre Wood and Penn State's Silas Redd look to be some of the toughest national competition to Montee Ball's awards push. However, as was the case a season ago, Ball's true hurdle resides in the south. The Southeastern Conference to be exact.
Knile Davis. Marcus Lattimore.
Two running backs that have already established themselves as names in the college football ranks, and are now looking to have monster seasons for their respective teams.
Knile Davis and Marcus Lattimore, both returning from serious injuries in 2011, are at the top of everyone's list when it comes to elite running backs. Davis is a speedster with unreal size that benefits tremendously from the potent passing attack of the Razorbacks. Lattiimore is the workhorse, the Steady Eddie who can do it all out of the backfield, and he is the true centerpiece for Steve Spurrier's attack.
Montee Ball's loss to Trent Richardson last year proved that the Doak Walker Award is about more than just stats. While the senior Wisconsin Badger is set to have another great season, he's going to have to do a little more than just put up good numbers to take home the hardware. With what Knile Davis can do out of the backfield athletically, and how complete Marcus Lattimore is as a back, don't be surprised if either of them walks away with the Doak Walker Award come December.