CFB Award Predictions: Top 5 Doak Walker Candidates

CFB Award Predictions: Top 5 Doak Walker Candidates

Football

CFB Award Predictions: Top 5 Doak Walker Candidates

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1. Deuce Vaughn

Deuce Vaughn is the most dynamic back in college football. He was also a 2021 Doak Walker semifinalist after recording 1872 total yards and 22 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns. A 5’6 176-pound person should not be as dominant as Vaughn is. He is a unique all-purpose weapon and a true game-breaker. No rusher was more valuable to his team in 2021 than Vaughn who led the nation in PFF Wins above average for running backs. Unlike Robinson, Vaughn needs to carry his offense on his back for it to be successful. Kansas State is a sleeper team to win the Big 12 and if they manage to do it, it will no doubt be because of Vaughn’s heroics. 

2. Bijan Robinson

If Deuce Vaughn is the most dynamic running back in the nation, then Bijan Robinson is a close second. His balanced, every-down skillset gives him the potential to put up monster numbers in the new-look Texas offense. He finished last year with 1127 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground to go with 295 yards and 4 touchdowns in the receiving game. Those numbers were good enough to make Robinson a Doak Walker Award Semi-finalist in 2021 but he will need more production to take it home this year. His combination of contact balance, power, home-run speed, and natural receiving ability is one of one. Robinson has proven to be a star and should be considered an early favorite to win the award.

 

3. Zach Charbonnet

Zach Charbonnet broke out last season after transferring from Michigan to UCLA finishing as a top-three graded rusher in the FBS. He was excellent as a freshman when he scored 11 touchdowns, fourth most in the Big Ten, but never got going in his COVID-shortened sophomore year. Charbonnet proved that he belonged as a bell-cow rusher and not in a committee backfield by rushing for over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns. His large 6’1 220-pound frame allows him to break tackles better than almost anyone in the country. Charbonnet returned to school to prove to NFL scouts that he is more than just a bruiser, and in the process will produce enough to put him in contention for some hardware. 

 

4. TreVeyon Henderson

TreVeyon Henderson was the only true freshman to be named a Doak Walker semi-finalist in 2021. His 6.8 yards per attempt led the Big Ten and his 19 total touchdowns were a Buckeye freshman record. Ohio State has had some talented backs in the past decade (Ezekiel Elliot, JK Dobbins) and Henderson might be the best one yet. His big-play capability was evident as soon as he took a screen pass 70 yards to the house in his debut against Minnesota. The only thing that could hold Henderson back on the stat sheet is his surrounding talent. Not only do the Buckeyes have the best receiver room in the country, but they also have Miyan Williams and Evan Pryor in the backfield taking carries from Henderson. Still, he is no doubt one of the best running backs in the nation and will produce in a high-tempo Ohio State offense.

 

5. Braelon Allen

Braelon Allen was one of college football’s most physical running backs as just a 17-year-old freshman! Allen burst onto the scene with 1268 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and was one of the biggest surprises of the entire season. He did not play a snap in the season opener and didn’t have more than five touches until week four. From there he rushed for 100 plus yards in seven straight games including a monster 228-yard and three touchdown performance against Nebraska. His immediate dominance is reminiscent of former Badger Jonathan Taylor who was also a superstar from the moment he arrived on campus. Taylor won the Doak Walker award in both his sophomore and junior seasons. The 238-pound Allen certainly has the athletic ability to perform at that level and make it so that three of the last five Doak Walker awards belong in Madison.

 

Honorable Mentions

Devon Achane

Jahmyr Gibbs

Sean Tucker

Zach Evans

Lew Nichols III

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