Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott was the hottest running back exiting the 2014 season, and that momentum carried into the offseason as he’s one of the wagering favorites for the 2015 Heisman Trophy and claimed a prestigious amateur honor for good measure. Not surprisingly, he’s landed on a watch lost that specifically honors the position he plays.
As part of the annual watch list dump in mid-July, the Doak Walker Award announced a group of 69 backs added to its preseason listing. Included in that number are six backs who finished in the Top 10 in rushing yards in 2014: Elliott (No. 3), along with San Diego State’s Donnell Pumphrey (No. 4), Marshall’s Devon Johnson (No. 6), Pittsburgh’s James Connor (No. 7), Oklahoma Samaje Perine (No. 8) and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt (No. 10).
Connor and Johnson were semifinalists last year for the award won by Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, as was 2015 watch lister Matt Breida of Georgia Southern.
Conference-wise, the Pac-12 led all leagues with 12 players on the list. The other Power Five conferences has the SEC with 10, the Big Ten with eight, and the ACC and Big 12 with five each. Amongst the Group of Five, Conference USA and the Sun Belt are tops with six apiece.
Arkansas, Oregon and USC were the only schools with two backs each listed.