2012 First Look: Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Posted Mar 8, 2012

The way-too-early first look at the 2012 awards: Doak Walker & Biletnikoff

2012 Spring Football    

First Look: The Awards

2012 Spring Preview: First Look At The Awards
- Heisman, Maxwell, & Davey O'Brien
- Outland, Bednarik, & Lombardi | Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
- Rimington & Mackey | Butkus & Thorpe | Lou Groza & Ray Guy

By Richard Cirminiello 
Follow Us ... #ColFootballNews  

It's way too early to start bandying about the names of the most prominent candidates for 2012's individual awards in college football, right? Whatever. It's March and wild speculation is one of the joys of the offseason. It's a chance to debate, mull over and contemplate next year's stars with complete impunity.

Will lists of contenders in January be spot on in December? Of course not. Will they make you think and pine for September? Probably. And that's really the objective here, whetting appetites, generating some interesting discussions and taking a sneak peek into what might be lurking ahead for the upcoming season.

Top Running Back (Doak Walker Award)

9. Andre Ellington, Clemson
A gamebreaker in a high-powered Tigers offense, Ellington now needs to show that he can navigate an entire season without succumbing to an injury.

8. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Now that Andrew Luck is gone, Taylor is about to become the central theme of the Cardinal offense. He's prepped for the role by rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons.

7. Ray Graham, Pittsburgh
At the time of his season-ending knee injury, Graham was ranked second nationally at 134 yards per game. He'll be a perfect match for new head coach Paul Chryst's pro-style attack.

6. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska
A tough and determined inside runner, Burkhead has just enough wiggle to make people miss in the open field. The do-everything Husker will be after his second 1,000-yard season and first Big Ten rushing title.

5. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
With Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon gone, Randle is set to command more headlines. Did anyone notice he rushed for 1,216 yards, caught 43 passes and scored 26 times?

4. Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Barner has required just 304 career carries to amass 1,856 yards and 20 yards on the ground … mostly as a backup. As the successor to LaMichael James, he could reach those numbers in 2012 alone.

3. Knile Davis, Arkansas
Before missing all of 2011 with an ankle injury, Davis had ripped through the SEC during the second half of his sophomore year. He'll be primping for an NFL audition.

2. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
No one has a better nose for the goal line than Ball, who tied an NCAA record with 39 touchdowns a year ago. He might have to shoulder an even bigger load now that QB Russell Wilson has departed.

1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
At full strength, there might not be a more complete back around. As he auditions for the NFL, Lattimore's goal will be to endure with less supporting talent than he's ever had in Columbia.

Top Wide Receiver (Biletnikoff Award)

10. Josh Boyce, TCU
Boyce was at his best in the upset of Boise State, an underrated receiver now on the same page as first-year starting QB Casey Pachall. His Q rating will soar in the Big 12.

9. Marqise Lee, USC
Yeah, it'll be tough to steal the spotlight from teammate Robert Woods, the more heralded receiver at USC. Still, 73 catches for 1,143 and 11 touchdowns is rarified air for a rookie.

8. Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee
Rogers was dynamite as a sophomore, catching 67 balls for 1,040 yards and nine scores. Will his production dip when Justin Hunter returns from injury?

7. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
As open-field playmakers go, Austin has very few peers. The 2011 leader in all-purpose yards will make his case in a multitude of formations and spots on the field.

6. Marquess Wilson, Washington State
How do you improve a third-year wideout who's already caught 18 touchdown passes in two seasons? You pair him up with new head coach Mike Leach.

5. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Hunter was headed toward a breakthrough sophomore year when an ACL tear in Week 3 derailed it. In a little more than a season, Tennessee's homerun hitter has parlayed 33 catches into 729 yards and nine touchdowns.

4. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
The Sooners will hang up big offensive numbers with Landry Jones back at the controls for one more year. Stills promises to be one of the chief beneficiaries now that Ryan Broyles has graduated.

3. Keenan Allen, Cal
On a different team, and with a different quarterback, Allen would be as celebrated as any wide receiver in America. He's a polished all-around playmaker who likely won't peak until Sundays.

2. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
If Watkins can school opposing secondaries just months removed from high school, what does he do for an encore? He's a rare talent, nuancing explosive athletic ability with polished receiving skills.

1. Robert Woods, USC
Woods enjoys an almost unfair advantage against opposing defensive backs; not only is he flush with game-breaking skills, but he also gets to play catch with the country's premier passer.

2012 Spring Preview: First Look At The Awards
- Heisman, Maxwell, & Davey O'Brien
- Outland, Bednarik, & Lombardi | Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
- Rimington & Mackey | Butkus & Thorpe | Lou Groza & Ray Guy