December 8, 2022

Ranking the 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award

Doak Walker Award semifinalists

Illinois running back Chase Brown carries the ball in the second quarter against Minnesota Saturday October 15, 2022 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

They play a position that requires the most trust from a coaching staff.

Having vision, elusiveness and durability is always a plus and fumbling the ball is not an option. These elite rushers come in different packages, from workhorses, to sideline burners and the pounders in-between the tackles. Solid blocking and soft hands out of the backfield always helps against the pass rush too.

The Doak Walker is still up for grabs as these running backs approach week 13 on the gridiron. And they’re all looking to cap off their stellar campaigns with a lasting impression this week.

10. Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State: He’s the smallest of the bunch, but packs a lot of explosiveness behind his five-foot-six, 176-pound frame. Vaughn is having a stellar career with the Wildcats, and a reason why they are second in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game this fall. The Texas native is currently fourth in the conference in rushing yards. Vaughn is averaging 104.4 yards on the ground per game, which ranks fourth in the league and 17th in the FBS. Vaughn has eclipsed the century mark in rushing against South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor. His 170 rushing yards in the victory over the Red Raiders were a season-high. Having back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons helps. Vaughn can also move into the program’s top-five for single-season rushing performances again.

9. Kendre Miller, TCU: The junior is having a spectacular campaign this fall for the undefeated Horned Frogs. Miller has scored at least one rushing touchdown in every game this year. He’s currently third in the Big 12 and 14th in the FBS in rushing yards. Not to mention Miller is second in the league with 14 rushing scores. Miller is averaging 108 yards on the ground per game, and he’s a vital piece in TCU’s balanced attack. The Texas native eclipsed the century mark in rushing against SMU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Texas.  Miller also is averaging 6.46 yards per carry, which ranks 15th in the country. The six-foot, 220-pounder does an great job at keeping defenders from keying in on quarterback Max Duggan, because they have to respect his presence on the field.

8. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA: He’s an explosive rusher, who packs physicality and has great vision. Charbonnet been rumbling over defenders all season long, and has 13 rushing scores. The former Michigan Wolverine leads the Pac-12 in yards on the ground. Charbonnet is also numero uno in the league in rushing yards per game. Not to mention he’s averaging a jaw-dropping, 7.25 yards per carry, which ranks first in the conference and second in the FBS. Charbonnet went over 100 yards rushing against Bowling Green, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona. He had three rushing touchdowns apiece against the Cardinal, Wildcats and Buffaloes. The Bruins are No. 6 in the nation in rushing offense because he’s a deadly combination with dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

7. DeWayne McBride, UAB: The dude is having another amazing campaign on the gridiron. McBride is currently fourth in the country with 1,441 rushing yards. He has 18 touchdowns on the ground, which is tied for second in the FBS. McBride is extremely explosive and averages a jaw-dropping, 6.64 yards per carry, which ranks sixth in the country. The Florida native went over 100 yards rushing against Liberty, Rice, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, UTSA and North Texas. Not to mention McBride eclipsed the 200-yard mark in rushing yards against Georgia Southern and scored four touchdowns, which were all season-highs. McBride only rushed for 34 yards in last week’s loss at LSU. It was the first time this season that McBride was held in check, but he still scored.

6. Quishon Judkins, Ole Miss: The true freshman has made himself a household name in the SEC this fall. There’s no denying that when Judkins leads the league with 1,385 rushing yards, which is a single-season best for a Rebel running back. Judkins is also first in the conference and fifth in the FBS with 16 rushing scores. The former four-star prospect is averaging 125.9 rushing yards per game, which is ninth-best in the country. Judkins 6.05 yards per carry ranks 21st in the nation. He went over 100 yards rushing against Central Arkansas, Tulsa, Kentucky, Auburn, LSU and Alabama. Not to mention he eclipsed the 200-yard mark against Texas A&M and Arkansas. Judkins is a reason why the Rebels are currently eighth in the FBS in rushing offense. It’s scary that Judkins is just starting to crack the surface.

5. Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh: The Brooklyn native has taken the ACC by storm this fall. Abanikanda is a monster with the ball in his hands and is as elusive as they come. He leads the ACC with 1,320 rushing yards. Abanikanda has rushed for a jaw-dropping, 18 touchdowns, which ranks first in the conference and third in the FBS. Not to mention he’s averaging 132 yards on the ground per game, which is numero uno in the league and sixth in the country. Abanikanda eclipsed the century mark in rushing against Tennessee, Western Michigan, Rhode Island, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia and Duke. The former three-star prospect had his coming out party against Virginia Tech though. Abanikanda carried the ball 36 times for 320 yards and six touchdowns, which were all career-highs.

4. Chase Brown, Illinois: The Canadian has been the College football’s most consistent rusher this season. Which is why Brown leads the entire nation in rushing yards. Brown is averaging a jaw-dropping, 143.8 yards on the ground per game, which ranks second in the Big Ten and third in the FBS. He needs just 116 yards to break Illinois’ single-season rushing record that’s been in place since 2010. Brown eclipsed the century mark in rushing against Wyoming, Indiana, Virginia, Chattanooga, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan. His 199 yards on the ground in the loss to the Hoosiers, and 41 carries in the victory over the Golden Gophers were both a season-highs. The only knock on Brown is that he only has nine rushing touchdowns, but he may generate several against Northwestern.

3. Blake Corum, Michigan: The dude has clearly carried the torch from from Hassan Haskins this fall. Corum is the vital piece in Michigan’s punishing rushing attack, that ranks first in the Big Ten and fourth in the nation. The Baltimore native tied for second in the FBS with 18 rushing touchdowns. Corum is third is fifth in the country in yards on the ground per game. Not to mention he’s third in the conference in yards per carry. Corum rushed for a jaw-dropping, five touchdowns against Connecticut, which were a career-high. He went eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards against Iowa, Indiana, Penn State, Michigan State, Rutgers, Nebraska and Illinois. However, Corum steamrolled for 234 yards against Maryland. He’ll definitely be a Heisman finalist if Michigan beats Ohio State.

2. Bijan Robinson, Texas: The All-American rusher been leaving defenders in his tracks all season long. Robinson leads the Big 12 and is sixth in the FBS with 1,401 rushing yards. He’s also numero uno in the league and tied for fifth in the country with 16 rushing touchdowns. The former five-star prospect is averaging 127.4 yards on the ground per game, which is eighth-best in the nation. Robinson eclipsed the century mark in rushing against UTSA, Texas, Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. However, Robinson generated two 200-yard rushing performances in wins over Kansas State and Kansas. His 234 rushing yards and four touchdowns last week against the Jayhawks were both season-highs. Robinson is already projected to be a first round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft too.

1. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota: The Baltimore native has returned to the gridiron with a vengeance this season, after he missed the last 12 games in 2021 with a lower leg injury. Ibrahim lead the entire country in rushing yards per game. He’s second in the Big Ten and FBS with 1,524 yards on the ground. Not to mention Ibrahim is numero uno in the nation with 19 rushing scores. He’s a rusher who gets stronger with every carry and is a pain for defenders to tackle in the fourth quarter. Ibrahim had 100-yard rushing performances against New Mexico State, Rutgers, Nebraska, Western Illinois, Michigan State, Illinois and Penn State. However, he went over 200 yards rushing against Colorado and Iowa. Ibrahim’s 39 carries for 263 yards in last week’s loss against the Hawkeyes were both season-highs.

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