Who will be the Best Running Back in College Football in 2011?


Who will be the best tailback in college football this fall? You can get a good idea by looking at the Doak Walker Award watch list which was released yesterday.

Illinois Fighting Illini senior Jason Ford and Notre Dame Fighting Irish junior Cierre Wood were among the 51 players named to the watch list on Friday.

Ford is one of seven Big Ten running backs on the Walker watch list, alongside Edwin Baker (Michigan State Spartans), Montee Ball (Wisconsin Badgers), Duane Bennett (Minnesota Golden Gophers), Rex Burkhead (Nebraska Cornhuskers), Marcus Coker (Iowa Hawkeyes) and James White (Wisconsin Badgers).

For the best QB, Davey O’Brien list, go here

The Doak Walker Award is given to the nation’s top running back. Oregon’s LaMichael James won the award last season. Ford ran for 480 yards and 7 TDs on 99 carries for Illinois in 2010. He’s expected to be Illinois’ primary running back this season with Mikel Leshoure skipping his senior season to enter the NFL. he was taken in the second round by the Detroit Lions. Ford is aiming to become the third Illini to rush for over 1,000 yards in the last five years, as Mikel Leshoure (1,697) and Rashard Mendenhall (1,681) accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2007, respectively. Ford ran for 480 yards and seven touchdowns on 99 carries, an average of 4.8 yards per carry, in 2010. He enters the 2011 season with 1,362 career rushing yards, which ranks 24th in school history, and 19 career rushing touchdowns.

Wood ran for 603 yards and 3 TDs on 119 carries for ND last season. He became Notre Dame’s starting tailback in 2010 when Armando Allen went down with a season-ending injury in week six.

Ten semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award will be announced on Nov. 11, with the winner being named live on ESPN on Dec. 8. The Davey O’Brien Award will name 16 semifinalists on Oct. 24, with three finalists being named on Nov. 21. The winner also will be named on The Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 8.

Alvester Alexander (Jr.), Wyoming

Victor Anderson (Sr.), Louisville

Keola Antolin (Sr.), Arizona

Edwin Baker (Jr.), Michigan State

Montee Ball (Jr.), Wisconsin

Vick Ballard (Sr.), Mississippi State

Bryce Beall (Sr.), Houston

Duane Bennett (Sr.), Minnesota

Brandon Bolden (Sr.), Ole Miss

Rex Burkhead (Jr.), Nebraska

Asher Clark (Sr.), Air Force

Marcus Coker (So.), Iowa

Lennon Creer (Sr.), Louisiana Tech

Orleans Darkwa (So.), Tulane

Knile Davis (Jr.), Arkansas

Jeff Demps (Sr.), Florida

JJ Di Luigi (Sr.), BYU

Lance Dunbar (Sr.), North Texas

Michael Dyer (So.), Auburn

Andre Ellington (Jr.), Clemson

Jason Ford (Sr.), Illinois

Johnathan Franklin (Jr.), UCLA

Ray Graham (Jr.), Pittsburgh

Cyrus Gray (Sr.), Texas A&M

Montel Harris (Sr.), Boston College

Ronnie Hillman (So.), San Diego State

LaMichael James (Jr.), Oregon

Marcus Lattimore (So.), South Carolina

Zach Line (Jr.), SMU

Cameron Marshall (Jr.), Arizona State

Doug Martin (Sr.), Boise State

Sam McGuffie (Jr.), Rice

Davin Meggett (Sr.), Maryland

Christine Michael (Jr.), Texas A&M

Lamar Miller (So.), Miami

Alfred Morris (Sr.), Florida Atlantic

Isaiah Pead (Sr.), Cincinnati

Chris Polk (Jr.), Washington

Tauren Poole (Sr.), Tennessee

Bobby Rainey (Sr.), Western Kentucky

Trent Richardson (Jr.), Alabama

Pat Shed (Sr.), UAB

Rodney Stewart (Sr.), Colorado

Stepfan Taylor (Jr.), Stanford

Alexander Teich (Sr.), Navy

Adonis Thomas (Sr.), Toledo

Matthew Tucker (Jr.), TCU

Robert Turbin (Jr.), Utah State

Ed Wesley (Jr.), TCU

James White (So.), Wisconsin

David Wilson (Jr.), Virginia Tech

Cierre Wood (Jr.), Notre Dame

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter

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