FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden is one of three finalists for the 2006 Doak Walker Award it was announced by The Guaranty Bank SMU Athletic Forum on Tuesday. Michigan’s Mike Hart and West Virginia’s Steve Slaton join McFadden as finalists for the award presented annually to the nation’s best running back.
The recipient of the 2006 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards at 7 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Dec. 7. The award will be presented at the 2006 Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet in Dallas on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007.
“It is a tremendous honor for Darren to be named as a finalist for this prestigious award,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt. “Darren has quietly gone about his business in a humble manner. He is always quick to credit his teammates for his accomplishments. He has had a fantastic season and deserves to be in contention for an award recognizing the best running back in the nation.”
McFadden, a sophomore from Little Rock, Ark., has rushed for 1,303 yards and accounted for 15 touchdowns this season. He leads the SEC in total rushing yards and yards per game and has scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and passing in 2006. McFadden averaged 120 rushing yards per contest in four games against nationally-ranked opponents this season and is the third back in Arkansas history to have back-to-back 1,000 rushing season.
Hart, a junior from Syracuse, N.Y., has rushed for 1,515 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, and ranks fourth nationally in total rushing yards. He has averaged more rushing yards per game (122.6) than any back in University of Michigan history. Hart was a semifinalist for the Award in 2005.
Slaton, a sophomore from Levittown, Penn., has rushed for 1,578 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in 2006. He leads the nation averaging 187 all-purpose yards per game, and is tied for the national lead in rushing yards per game with 157.8 per contest. He ranks second nationally in total rushing yards. Slaton has rushed for more than 100 yards in 14 of his 17 career starts.
In addition to outstanding performance on the field, candidates for the Doak Walker Award must have demonstrated records of leadership and exhibited the characteristics of sportsmanship and fair play associated with Doak Walker.
The award is named after three-time SMU All-American running back and 1948 Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker. The versatile Walker, who also punted, returned kicks and kicked extra points, led the Mustangs to two Southwest Conference championships and brought the school
into the national spotlight. Walker was drafted by the Detroit Lions and as a rookie led the league in scoring.
During his six years with the Lions, he led the team to two NFL championships and was chosen All-Pro four times. Walker is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
Ballots for the Doak Walker Award are tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Osborn, Kosanda & Company, PLLC.
The late Walter Payton, former Jackson State and Chicago Bear great, was named the recipient of the 2006 PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award, which was created to honor former running backs who excelled at the collegiate level and also distinguished themselves as leaders in their communities. Payton also will be honored at the banquet.