Trent Richardson

Former Wisconsin RB Montee Ball calls Heisman a “QB award”

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A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy each of the last five years and 13 times dating back to 2000. The game of college football has evolved to see quarterbacks pile up stats and gather plenty of notoriety during the course of the season, so it may not be a surprise to see the Heisman Trophy slant in favor of high-profile quarterbacks winning the award with regularity.

On Saturday night, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota continued that trend by running away with the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Mariota pulled away from the nation’s best wide receiver, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and the nation’s leading rusher, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Gordon not winning the award did not seem to sit well with another former Badgers running back, another Heisman Trophy finalist.

Montee Ball, a 2011 Heisman finalist after rushing for 1,759 yards and 32 touchdowns, shared his reaction to his Wisconsin successor getting passed over for another quarterback.

Ball finished fourth in the 2011 Heisman Trophy voting. That year’s award went to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. Stanford’s Andrew Luck finished second, followed by Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

This was a strong year for running backs, but Mariota entered the year as a Heisman favorite and did nothing this season to detract from his Heisman track. Is the Heisman Trophy a quarterback award, or did the voters get it right this year?

Five-star recruit eligible to play for Alabama next season

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Bo Scarbrough was one of six five-star recruits to commit to the Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s class, according to Rivals.com. Scarbrough, who was considered the No. 2 athlete in the country, is the only one not currently on Alabama’s roster. But that will change this spring.

BamaOnline.com’s Charles Power reported Scarbrough is now eligible to enroll at Alabama during the spring semester.

“Yes it is (true). He’s very excited about it,” Scarbrough’s mother, Donetris, confirmed. “Roll Tide!”

At SEC media days, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, “They won’t be completed until the end of summer school. I can’t really make a prediction on what their status will be until their summer school is over.”

Saban was referring to both Scarbrough and fellow recruit Montel McBride. The offensive lineman decided to go the JUCO route after he didn’t qualify to play for Alabama.

With the eventual inclusion of Scarbrough, Alabama’s running back pipeline will continue. Current starter T.J. Yeldon is expected to follow in the footsteps of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy to become the next Alabama running back in the NFL. After all, Yeldon is consider a first-round talent by ESPN.com. Derrick Henry will then be expected to take over the starting role in 2015, while Scarbrough becomes the next phenom in the team’s stable of running backs.

Next in line: RB Derrick Henry emerging for Alabama this spring

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Alabama running back Derrick Henry has rode the momentum of a breakout performance in the Sugar Bowl, and appears (sorry, coach Saban) poised to be the next star running back for the Tide.

Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon came before him (Yeldon will be a junior this fall). He lept ahead of Kenyan Drake on Alabama’s depth chart heading into the Sugar Bowl, and staked his claim to the spot behind Yeldon with 100 yards on eight carries with a touchdown against Oklahoma.

This spring, Henry’s held off Drake to take most of the No. 2 reps behind Yeldon. Though as Andrew Gribble writes for AL.com, he’s done more than just hold off Drake — he’s asserted himself in Alabama’s offense.

“Derrick Henry has had a fabulous spring,” said Saban, who carefully doles out praise of that magnitude. “He picked up right where he left off at bowl practice last year. He works really hard. He runs really hard. He plays with a lot of toughness. He gets it. Very conscientious guy. 

“He sets a great example. Physical in the way he plays. Very conscientious and pays attention to detail.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in Gribble’s story on Henry’s adjustment period in college, as well as a pretty great quote from the running back on the Sugar Bowl. Give it a read and get acquainted with this guy, since you’ll probably see his name quite a bit this coming fall.

Barner paces Doak Walker semifinalists

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Thanks to a record-setting performance against USC last Saturday, Kenjon Barner found himself thrust right into the middle of the Heisman Trophy discussion.

Thanks to season-long excellence, the Oregon running back’s also in the, uh, running for another prestigious award as well.

Given annually to the nation’s top running back, the Doak Walker Award Friday announced its list of 2012 semifinalists.  Obviously, Barner was one of the 10 named, and was one of three from the Pac-12 — UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor (no relation) being the others.

The Big Ten also has three on the list; the Pac-12 and Big Ten are the only conferences with more than one back represented.

Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle are the only semifinalists from 2011 to repeat this season. There are five juniors, four seniors and one sophomore — North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard — on this year’s list of semifinalists.

Last year’s winner was Alabama’s Trent Richardson.

Montee Ball (Sr.) Wisconsin
Kenjon Barner (Sr.) Oregon
Le’Veon Bell (Jr.) Michigan State
Giovani Bernard (So.) North Carolina
David Fluellen (Jr.) Toledo
Johnathan Franklin (Sr.) UCLA
Stefphon Jefferson (Jr.) Nevada
Venric Mark (Jr.) Northwestern
Joseph Randle (Jr.) Oklahoma State
Stepfan Taylor (Sr.) Stanford