FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden is one of three finalists for the 2007 Doak Walker Award it was announced by The Guaranty Bank SMU Athletic Forum on Monday. Michigan’s Mike Hart and Rutgers’ Ray Rice join McFadden as finalists for the award presented annually to the nation’s best running back.
McFadden became the first sophomore in history to win the award last season after rushing for a school-record 1,647 yards. The Little Rock, Ark., native is on an even better pace this season racking up 1,519 yards rushing and accounting for 16 touchdowns in 11 games this season. He leads the SEC in total rushing yards and yards per game and has scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and passing in 2007. He ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game with an average of 1381.1 yards per outing. McFadden is the only running back in SEC history other than Herschel Walker to rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
McFadden is hoping to join former University of Texas running back Ricky Williams (1997-98) as the only two-time recipient of the Doak Walker Award.
Hart, a senior from Syracuse, New York, has rushed for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games this season, and ranks fifth nationally in rushing yards per game. He is Michigan’s all-time leading rusher. Hart was a finalist for the Award in 2006.
Rice, a junior from New Rochelle, New York, has rushed for 1,612 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in 2007. He leads the Big East and ranks third nationally in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game. In three career games against teams ranked in the AP top ten, Rice has averaged over 150 yards rushing. Rice was a semifinalist for the award in 2006.
The three finalists were determined by a vote of the 162-member Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee. The Committee will cast a second vote to determine the recipient of the 2007 Doak Walker Award. The recipient will be announced live on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, December 6. The award will be presented at the 2007 Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet in Dallas on Friday, Feb. 15, 2008.
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 Burgess Company.
Marcus Allen, former USC and NFL great, was named the recipient of the 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award, which was created to honor former running backs that excelled at the collegiate level and also distinguished themselves as leaders in their communities. Allen also will be honored at the banquet.