2015 Preseason Award Projections: Walker Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2016 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Doak Walker Award is given to the best running back in college football. Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, who was our preseason prediction.

Doak Walker Award Winner:

Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State

The Doak Walker Award has a tendency to favor the runners with one of the highest totals. Last year, Elliott averaged 6.9 yards per carry for 1,878 yards with 18 touchdowns. He also had 28 receptions for 220 yards. Elliott showed a special combination with the speed and quickness to break off long runs while also having the power to run through tackles. He was tremendous to close out the Buckeyes’ title run as he destroyed Wisconsin (20-220-2), Alabama (20-230-2) and Oregon (36-246-4) in the final three games to lead Ohio State. With those three teams unable to stop him, it is hard to see anyone slowing him down in 2015.

If Elliott stays healthy, he should end up being at least a finalist for, if not the winner of, the Doak Walker Award. The Big Ten provides a lot of weak opponents for Elliott to run over throughout the regular season. He also has four of his five offensive linemen returning, some good talent at wide receiver and a weapon at quarterback – no matter who is picked to be the starter. Elliott could produce a massive season and be a Heisman Trophy contender.

Doak Walker Award Runner-Up:

Nick Chubb, Georgia

When Todd Gurley was suspended in 2014 and eventually out for the year with a torn ACL, Georgia’s offense continued to run over the opposition thanks to Chubb. The human bowling ball rolled over tacklers and and was a physical force in the SEC. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder is a powerful runner who also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. In the open field, defensive backs really struggle to bring him down.

In 2014 while splitting time with Gurley, Chubb averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. He caught 18 receptions for 213 yards and two scores. Chubb should have enough talent around him to help him, but even with defenses selling out to stop him, he could run wild in the SEC for the second-straight season. With the majority of Gurley’s carries going to Chubb, seeing Chubb total close to 2,000 yards and challenge for the Doak Walker Award looks very possible.

Doak Walker Award Dark Horse:

Derrick Henry, Alabama

Alabama has been a factory for talented running backs, and Henry is the next in line following Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Last year, Henry averaged 5.8 yards per carry for 990 yards with 11 touchdowns. He added five receptions for 133 yards, too. Considering that Henry was backup and Yeldon was the feature back, those totals are very impressive. The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Henry should be in store for a huge season in 2015 with Yeldon and Amari Cooper in the NFL and Alabama starting a new quarterback. The Crimson Tide could lean on the Henry to compensate for those losses, however the program will use some other backs as well, and that is what makes Henry a dark horse.

Honorable Mentions: Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, Pittsburgh’s James Conner, Utah’s Devontae Booker, LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Florida’s Kelvin Taylor, Arkansas’s Alex Collins, Arkansas’ Jonathan Williams, Oregon State’s Storm Woods, Wisconsin’s Corey Clement, Virginia Tech’s Trey Edmunds, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Baylor’s Shock Linwood.

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