Four running backs from the Atlantic Coast Conference were among those named when the watch list for the 2013 Doak Walker Award was announced on Thursday. The award, handed out to the nation’s most outstanding running back, was won last season by Wisconsin‘s Montee Ball.
Miami Hurricanes sophomore Duke Johnson, Boston College Eagles senior Andre Williams, Syracuse Orange senior Jerome Smith and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets senior David Sims are the four candidates from the ACC that will vie for the opportunity this season to capture the coveted hardware.
Of the four, the most eyes are on Miami’s Johnson. After breaking onto the scene as a true freshman for the ‘Canes last year, Johnson has a lot of expectations this season, and deservedly so. Rushing for 947 yards, Johnson narrowly missed the 1,000 yard plateau and with one of the best offensive lines in the country back this season leading him, the four-figure mark in 2013 should be an easily attainable goal. Couple this with his pass-catching abilities out of the backfield (27 catches, 221 yards) and you certainly have one of the best backs in the nation.
Boston College’s Williams lands on this list as part of his comeback tour from injury last season. Only seeing action in eight games last season, Williams recorded just 599 yards and four touchdowns. However his 2011 campaign was a different story as a sophomore, a year which saw him carry the bulk of the BC offensive load with 978 yards rushing. New head coach Steve Addazio is high on the back being a focal point in his offense this season and, should he come through, could easily put himself on the map of the best running backs around.
In contrast to the other two, Syracuse’s Smith did break the 1,000 yard plateau in 2012. Netting 1171 yards on the ground for the Orange last season has to have first-year head coach Scott Shafer breathing a sigh of relief. Pairing up a dynamic, durable back like Smith with incoming transfer QB Drew Allen gives the Cuse plenty of balance on offense.
Now, no ACC Doak Walker list would be complete without a running back from the team that runs the ball more times than Nick Saban makes hand gestures during a press conference. Georgia Tech’s David Sims rushed the ball for 612 yards and six scores in ’12 and will try to trump that effort this season while leading GT on a mission to get back to the ACC Championship Game.
Jack is the ACC College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS