Jon Hilliman

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Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

Boston College holds off Maryland to win first bowl game since 2007

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Boston College (7-6) held off Maryland (6-7) in the Quick Lane Bowl by batting down pass after pass and not letting the Terrapins into the end zone despite multiple first-and-goal opportunities in the fourth quarter. Boston College secured its first bowl victory in nine years by winning in Detroit on Monday, 36-30.

Boston College sacked Maryland quarterback Perry Hills eight times, which tied the school record for most sacks in a game. the Eagles also forced four turnovers in the game and held Maryland to converting just four of 15 third-down plays. Maryland was also 0-for-2 on fourth down in the game, which also saw 11 penalties called on Maryland (and six more on Boston College). Maryland had a great chance to carve into the Boston College lead late in the game, but was unable to crack the end zone when it needed to the most.

Boston College quarterback Patrick Towles completed just 10 of his 22 pass attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and he also caught a 20-yard touchdown pass. Jon Hilliman led the Boston College running game with 79 yards and a touchdown. Maryland quarterback Hills passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns when his passes were not being batted down at the line of scrimmage. Deep passes were the keys to the Maryland offense, with Teldrick Morgan taking one play 63 yards and Levern Jacobs going for 52 yards on touchdown plays. Boston College jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first half but Maryland chipped away before stalling in the fourth quarter.

The ACC is now 1-0 in the bowl season, while the Big Ten opens up its postseason with a loss. Boston College won its first bowl game since 2007, while Maryland will continue to look for its first bowl victory since firing Ralph Friedgen (2010) when it takes the field in 2017.

Maryland will begin the 2017 season on the road on September 2, 2017 against Texas, which will serve as the Longhorns coaching debut of Tom Herman in Austin. Boston College will also start the 2017 season on the road with a September 1 game at Northern Illinois.

Boston College uses big plays to score 29 points in first half of Quick Lane Bowl. Yes, THAT Boston College

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Things may have gotten off to a rusty start in the Quick Lane Bowl, but Maryland and Boston College started heating things up a bit in the second quarter to set the stage for what could be an entertaining second half in Detroit. Boston College’s defense has set the tone and allowed the Eagles from the ACC to get a good lead on the Terrapins from the Big Ten, but big plays on the ground have allowed Maryland to chip away. At halftime in the Quick Lane Bowl, Boston College leads Maryland, 29-13. Boston College has not scored 29 points in a game against a Power Five opponent since 2014, and they just did it in the first half of this afternoon’s Quick Lane Bowl.

Boston College running back Jon Hilliman punched in a touchdown from the goal line in the first quarter, but Boston College missed the extra point attempt. The Eagles extended their lead to 16-0 in the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Patrick Towles to a wide open Tommy Sweeney and a field goal. Until that point, Maryland could do almost nothing on offense against Boston College’s stingy defense. Maryland running back Ty Johnson finally found a path to break a long touchdown run to get the Terrapins on the board, running 62 yards to the house to cut the Boston College lead to 16-7. Boston College responded with some big plays of its own, including a reverse that saw Jeff Smith toss a touchdown pass to quarterback Patrick Towles to regain the 16-point advantage.

On Maryland’s ensuing possession, Johnson struck gold once more with a 30-yard run up the middle of the defense, trimming the Boston College lead to 10. Then, rather than kick the extra point, Boston College chose to chase the points and run a two-point conversion play that was pretty horrible in execution, not to mention the timing.

We’ll see if that one point comes back to haunt Maryland in the second half. They’ll have a lot of work to do in order to make that relevant.

Towles went deep to Michael Walker for a 49-yard touchdown in the final minute, taking advantage of a late offensive possession. The Eagles got the ball off a Maryland punt at their 30-yard line and two plays later were boosting their lead to 29-13 (missing the extra point for a second time).

Boston College RB Jon Hilliman out with broken foot

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The strength of Boston College’s offense since the arrival of Steve Addazio as head coach has been the running game. That running game was dealt a serious blow Monday with the news regarding Jon Hilliman. Hilliman is out indefinitely with a broken foot after undergoing surgery on Sunday.

For now there is no clear timetable for Hilliman’s return, so for now Boston College will likely put the ball in Tyler Rouse‘s hands first. Rouse is second on the team with 160 rushing yards and five touchdowns, so there should be a good comfort level handing the ball off to the junior.

Hilliman was injured late in Saturday’s victory over Northern Illinois, in which he rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown. It was his biggest game of the season after a slow start to the season. Hilliman rushed for 880 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall.

2015 could be the year of the running back in college football

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College football has been a game for quarterbacks over the last decade or so, but the 2015 college football season could be a big one for the running backs. The young running backs that have taken the big stage during the 2014 season have shown glimpses of what could be one of the finest seasons for fans of the running game in quite some time.

Just look at some of the names coming back to line up in the back field with authority in 2015.

Now a couple of years removed from the SEC’s best quarterback class in some time, the SEC should be heavy on the run in 2015. The SEC’s leading rusher returning in 2015 will be Georgia’s Nick Chubb for his sophomore season, and LSU freshman Leonard Fournette could also be worthy of striking his Heisman pose. Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and an SEC-leading 14 touchdowns this season, and most of that came while backing up Todd Gurley until he went down to injury. Fournette also rushed for over 1,000 yards, including 143 yards in a bowl game loss against Notre Dame. If you need more running power from the SEC, look no further than Arkansas with sophomore Alex Collins. Collins is coming off a 1,100-yard season with 12 touchdowns and should be a big piece of the offense for Bret Bielema in 2015. If there is one thing Bielema knows how to do, it is run the football. With Collins on the field, Arkansas will do just that. Alabama will look for a big year from  too. Henry was 10 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season but he did rush for 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

Up north, the Big Ten should continue to see plenty of production on the ground. In 2014 the Big Ten running game was the story with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon earning a nod as Heisman finalist and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah a household name. But the Big Ten also saw great seasons from Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Minnesota’s David Cobb and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford. The Big Ten will lose all of these players to the draft, but there are some talented running backs ready to pick up the steam. Right now there is no hotter name among young running backs than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, who turned in a postseason run worthy of Mr. January consideration. Wisconsin has Corey Clement ready to be the next running back in line in Madison. Two other sophomores to keep an eye on in the Big Ten will be Michigan’s Derrick Green, who could have a big impact if he bounces back healthy in 2015, and Penn State’s Akeel Lynch if the Nittany Lions firm up on offensive line.

Move just west of Penn State and you may find the best running back in the state with Pittsburgh’s James Conner. The sophomore led the ACC in rushing with 1,765 yards and his 26 touchdowns were twice more than the ACC’s next leading rushing touchdown leader, Boston College’s Jon Hilliman (a freshman). Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could have a huge role in 2015 as well.

Out west it is easy to get caught up in the quarterback action in the Pac-12. This year was certainly the case with players like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, but next year could see some big years from running backs as well. Paul Perkins of UCLA led the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,575 yards this season and will be back in 2015. So will Arizona’s Nick Wilson, the conference’s fourth-leading rusher as a freshman, and Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman did not have a great championship game against Ohio State, but he should take on a heavy load without Mariota leading the offense in 2015.

The pass-happy Big 12 is not without some impact running backs in 2015 either. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine led the Big 12 with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014. Baylor’s Shock Linwood was second in the Big 12  as a sophomore with 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns. West Virginia’s Rushel Shell is also capable of doing some major damage if the Mountaineers have more faith in him.

Quarterbacks will likely remain the face of many programs, but the 2015 season could be a huge season for the running backs.