22 Jul 2016 07:45 PM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: PSU’s Saquon Barkley hurdles Illinois defender. (Image Source: USATSI)
Last week, the Doak Walker Associates released their watch list. The Doak Walker Award is given to the “premier running back” in college football. Among the runners recognized on this year’s watch list are ten coming out of the Big Ten Conference. We’d love to know who you believe the Big Ten’s best running back is. Click here to go to the All Media NY home page, where you can vote along the right column.
Here’s a quick look at the Big Ten’s top candidates for the Doak Walker Award:
Saquon Barkley, Penn State Nittany Lions: Just a sophomore, the PSU man is on everyone’s preseason All-B1G first team. Barkley has the size, speed and open-field elusiveness to win the Doak Walker Award. Heading into the season, he might be the conference’s best back.
Shannon Brooks, Minnesota Golden Gophers: A three-time freshman of the week, Brooks finished as Minnesota’s leading rushing thanks to his lofty 6.0 yards per carry average. He will share carries with fellow sophomore Rodney Smith but Brooks probably should be their primary runner.
Corey Clement, Wisconsin Badgers: There is no doubt who the main man is in Madison, if he can stay healthy. A sports hernia limited Clement to just 48 carries in 2015 but he rushed for 949 yards as a backup to Doak Walker Award winner Melvin Gordon as a sophomore. Clement’s size and speed could make him the favorite among the B1G candidates to win the award.
LeShun Daniels, Iowa Hawkeyes: The Hawkeyes like to spread the carries around and seem to be a program where seniority counts. Daniels is a senior and at 225 pounds, the type of thumper Iowa typically favors in their ball-control offense.
Justin Jackson, Northwestern Wildcats: Speaking of thumpers, the leading returning rusher in the B1G rumbled for 1,418 yards last season. He’s proven one thing necessary of a Doak Walker Award winner…Jackson can carry a heavy workload, as the steady Wildcat toted the pigskin 312 times in his sophomore season.
Markell Jones, Purdue Boilermakers: The Boilermakers had one of the worst rushing attacks in the Big Ten conference a year ago, but don’t blame Jones, who impressed as a freshman. The Indiana product scored 10 touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards a pop.
Terrell Newby, Nebraska Cornhuskers: Like many B1G backs, Newby is expected to share carries in Nebraska’s backfield. The Huskers will look to the senior to provide the lightning and big plays, as the fastest runner in their backfield.
Schedule Previews: Michigan Wolverines |
Devine Redding, Indiana Hoosiers: In a backup role, Redding still managed to crack 1,000 yards and score nine touchdowns, rushing for 501 of those yards in the final three games of the season.
De’Veon Smith, Michigan Wolverines: The 228-pound Smith is a bruising between the tackles runner, who fits Jim Harbaugh’s physical, smash-mouth brand of offense. Not a big-play back, but capable of grinding out the tough yards.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Illinois Fighting Illini: Despite splitting carries with Josh Ferguson, Vaugh emerged as the Illini’s leading rusher as a freshman. With Ferguson gone and little behind him, Vaughn will have the chance to carry the load this season.
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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