FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, an honor given to the nation’s top running back each year, it was announced Tuesday by The Guaranty Bank SMU Athletic Forum Board. McFadden is looking to join Ricky Williams (1997-98) as the only players to win the Doak Walker Award twice.
McFadden and Jones rank first and third in the Southeastern Conference in rushing with averages of 143.1 and 103.2 yards per game, respectively. The two Razorbacks became the first combo in SEC history to each surpass the 1,000-yard mark in back-to-back seasons.
“We are extremely proud that two Razorbacks are semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “I’m certainly partial, but I feel like they are the best two running backs in the nation. It is a credit to Darren and Felix as well as their teammates that they have been recognized among the best in the nation.”
McFadden, the 2006 Doak Walker recipient, has totaled 1,431 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in ten games this season for Arkansas. His rushing average is also good for fourth in the nation. Against South Carolina on Nov. 3, McFadden tied the SEC record for rushing yards in a game when he ran for 321 yards, tying the record set by Vanderbilt’s Frank Mordica in 1978. The junior tailback has eclipsed the 100-yard mark eight times this season. He is also 13th in the nation with 175.5 all-purpose yards per game.
The Little Rock, Ark., native became the Razorbacks’ all-time leading rusher with a 13-yard gain against Auburn. McFadden has 4,191 rushing yards through his 35-game career in Fayetteville. His rushing total is fourth on the SEC career rushing list. McFadden has also thrown for two touchdowns during the season.
Jones has racked up 1,032 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns this season on 114 carries. His yard-per-rush average of 9.05 is the best among the nation’s top 100 rushers. The explosive back from Tulsa, Okla., has totaled 12 runs this season of 30 yards or more, including three rushes of more than 70 yards. Jones rushed for a career-best 166 yards against South Carolina and has gained 100 or more yards six times this season.
The junior tailback is averaging 162.4 all-purpose yards per game in 2007 which is 19th in the nation. Jones is first in the SEC and sixth in the nation with 491 kickoff return yards, a 32.7 average per return. He also has two returns touchdowns this season.
The 162 members of the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast their votes this week to determine the three 2007 finalists, which will be named Monday, Nov. 19. A second vote by the selection committee will determine the recipient. The 2007 Doak Walker Award recipient will be announced live on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 6.
2007 Doak Walker Award Semifinalists (listed alphabetically)
Anthony Alridge, Sr., Houston
Jamall Charles, Jr., Texas
Matt Forte, Sr., Tulane
Mike Hart, Sr., Michigan
Felix Jones, Jr., Arkansas
Darren McFadden, Jr., Arkansas
Rashard Mendenhall, Jr., Illinois
Ray Rice, Jr., Rutgers
Kevin Smith, Jr., Central Florida
Jonathan Stewart, Jr., Oregon