Damien Harris

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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

Peach Bowl First Quarter Recap: Washington strikes first, Alabama answers with authority

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The Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies may had a few butterflies at the start of the game with a poor kickoff return from John Ross and a quick three-and-out, but the Huskies struck first in the first quarter of a College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against SEC champion Alabama in the Peach Bowl. Jake Browning delivered a beautiful pass to Dante Pettis to cap the second offensive series of the game for Washington.

The touchdown pass from Browning was his 43rd of the season, setting a new Pac-12 record for most touchdown passes in a single season, breaking the previous record set by former Cal quarterback Jared Goff in 2015.

The Crimson Tide would respond on the ensuing possession by flexing some muscle up front. Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Jalen Hurts all picked up yards on the ground for Alabama, with a key 16-yard gain by O.J. Howard through the air along the way before Scarbrough powered his way across the goal line to score a touchdown on the next drive.

Washington looked to be putting together a decent response of their own on the next drive, but a short pass to Ross was lost by the talented wideout and picked up by Alabama’s Jonathan Allen on Washington’s side of the field. Alabama holds the football at the start of the second quarter as a result.

One key position to keep an eye on as the game plays on will be Washington right tackle, true freshman Nick Harris. Harris has earned a starting role on the Washington offensive line as the season has gone alone, bu he has been given a massive test today against one of the best defensive front sin the nation today. There have already been a few rough moments on the edge.

No. 1 Alabama forced five turnovers in 49-24 win at No. 16 Arkansas

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If you thought No. 16 Arkansas was going to give top-ranked Alabama a good battle in the SEC West, well, you were out of luck Saturday night. Alabama improved to 6-0 (3-0 SEC) with a 49-30 victory that never felt as the final score might even suggest. Arkansas (4-2) fell to 0-2 in SEC play on a night in which they turned the football over five times. Against Alabama, that is far too many turnovers to have, and Alabama showed why.

Alabama returned two Arkansas turnovers for a touchdown and converted another Razorback turnover into a touchdown. One of the highlights of the night for the Alabama defense was Minkah Fitzpatrick‘s 100-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter. The score was somewhat crucial too, as a touchdown for Arkansas could have cut Alabama’s lead to 11 points. Instead, Alabama padded its lead and took a 49-24 lead to essentially hold Arkansas at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Nick Saban will find plenty to be upset about despite his top-ranked team once again coming through with a double-digit victory, because that’s just what Saban does. Giving up 400 yards through the air surely will catch the ire of Saban. Austin Allen tossed three touchdowns and hit the 400-yard mark, but he did so while also having three passes picked off. Alabama did do a good job of taking away the run, which Arkansas loves to use to their advantage. The Razorbacks were held under 100 rushing yards for the first time since November 21, 2015 when Mississippi State held them to 73 rushing yards. Alabama was one of two teams in 2015 to hold Arkansas to fewer than 100 yards. The last time Arkansas had more than 100 rushing yards against Alabama was in 2013, with 165 yards in a 52-0 defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide.

Alabama also had three turnovers of their own, which will not sit well with Saban. Quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 13 of his 17 pass attempts for 253 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, and Damien Harris led all players with 122 rushing yards. Hurts led the way with two touchdown runs. ArDarius Stewart was the leading receiver for Alabama with five receptions for 120 yards. Jared Cornelius of Arkansas topped that with five receptions for 146 yards. Neither scored a touchdown, however.

One other stat Saban will likely focus on is his defense’s lack of getting off the field. Arkansas converted half of their third down plays for a first down, and one of two fourth-down plays.

Next up for Alabama is another road game, this time against Tennessee. Expect Alabama to put a hurting on the Vols in the first half before Tennessee inexplicably battles back to make things interesting and perhaps dicey in the second half. If this season has taught us anything thus far, it is that Tennessee does not go away easily. Can they do the same against Alabama?

Arkansas hosts Ole Miss next week.

Alabama turns two Arkansas turnovers into 14 points for 34-10 halftime lead

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Turnovers have been the story of the first half as No. 1 Alabama holds the halftime edge on No. 16 Arkansas, 35-17. While Arkansas was unable to capitalize on an Alabama turnover early in the game, the Crimson Tide have turned two first-half turnovers into 14 points.

Arkansas was unable to take advantage of an early Alabama mistake. Joshua Jacobs lost a fumble at the goal line on the game’s opening possession, but Arkansas could only manage to reach the 23-yard line before having to punt the football back to the Crimson Tide. Alabama made sure not to make that mistake again with a short three-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. Jalen Hurts finished the drive with a five-yard run immediately after a 57-yard run by Damien Harris.

Arkansas fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, and Alabama took advantage of the Razorback turnover with a second Hurts touchdown run a few plays later. Arkansas answered with a touchdown drive of their own on the next possession, with Jeremy Sprinkle catching a 24-yard pass for a score from Austin Allen. Arkansas’ next offensive possession would also end with a touchdown, but this one was for Alabama instead. Tim Williams returned a Razorback fumble 23 yards for a score.

Alabama padded their lead with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to Harris, putting the Tide up 28-7. After Arkansas had a touchdown called off due to a penalty, the Razorbacks had to settle for a field goal, which was no good because Alabama came right back with another touchdown after Bret Bielema exploded on the sideline and drew an unsportsmanlike penalty to push a kickoff back 15 yards. Bo Scarbrough took off for a 21-yard score for the 35-10 lead.

Arkansas did manage to score one more touchdown before the end of the first half with Allen tossing to Keon Hatcher in the end zone.

Tide RB Bo Scarbrough tweets he’s set to go under the knife

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While Alabama has yet to publicly address the specifics, the injury sustained by a member of the Tide’s backfield is significant enough that a medical procedure will be involved in very short order.

On his Twitter account Sunday, Bo Scarbrough acknowledged that he will undergo surgery Monday morning to repair unspecified damage to his knee.  While there’s been no official word from anyone involved, reports state that Scarbrough sustained a torn ACL during a Friday scrimmage.

If Scarbrough tore his ACL, it’s very likely that his 2015 season is over before it ever got started.

Scarbrough was a five-star member of the Tide’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 2 athlete in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Alabama; and the No. 16 player overall according to Rivals.com.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, but was expected to play a substantial role at a position of significant recruiting strength that has suddenly been depleted.

Late last month, Tyren Jones (2013 four-star) was dismissed from the football program following a weed arrest.  In January, it was announced that Altee Tenpenny (2013 four-star) was no longer a member of the Tide. Kenyan Drake (2012 four-star), expected to be the latter part of UA’s one-two running-game punch with Derrick Henry (2013 four-star, 2015 Heisman contender) this coming season, sustained a significant and gruesome leg injury last October, although his progress indicates that he’ll be a go for the from the start in 2015.

The only other running back on the Tide’s current roster, outside of Henry and Drake, who will enter 2015 with a carry at this level is Buddy Pell (walk-on grandson of Charley Pell), who ran for 15 yards last season on two totes.

There could be immediate help on the way, though, as Damien Harris, a five-star 2015 signee rated as the No. 1 running back in the country, is set to join the Tide this summer.