CFN Roundtable - Doak Walker (Best RB) Picks
California RB Jahvid Best
California RB Jahvid Best
Posted Aug 16, 2009

Lists, lists, lists. The big award watch lists are out, and we'll break them all down, starting with the Doak Walker. Among the most unpredictable awards (no one saw Shonn Greene coming last year), the honor of being the nation's best running back isn't always a slam dunk. Check out the CFN Roundtables over the next two days.

CFN Daily Roundtables

Top Doak Walker Candidates

The Nation's Best Running Back

- Award Winners & History
- 2009 Preseason Doak Walker Watch List & CFN Picks

Past Roundtables
8/3 5 Thoughts on C-USA
7/24 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten
7/23 5 Thoughts on the MAC
7/22 5 Thoughts on the Big East
7/21 5 Thoughts on the M-West
7/20 5 Thoughts on the SEC
7/16 5 Thoughts on the ACC
7/15 5 Thoughts on the WAC
7/14 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt
7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: Your Top Doak Walker Candidates

The Best NFL Running Back Is ... Evan Royster, Jr. Penn State. He'd probably be the first back taken if the NFL Draft was held right now, and he should be in for a terrific season as the main offensive option now that Penn State has to replace all its top receivers. His exclusion from the preseason watch list is a joke.

The Nation's Leading Rusher Will Be ... Eugene Jarvis, Sr. Kent State. The diminutive back will dash and dart his way to a possible 2,000-yard season now that he's the main rushing option. Kent State loses rushing QB/now-New England Patriot Wes Welker wannabe Julian Edelman and has a decent offensive front to pave the way.

The Top Thunderbacks ... 1) John Clay, Soph. Wisconsin, 2) James Starks, Sr. Buffalo, 3) LeGarrette Blount, Sr. Oregon

The Top Home Run Hitters ... 1) Jahvid Best, Jr. California, 2) Jonathan Dwyer, Jr. Georgia Tech, 3) Noel Devine, Jr. West Virginia

The Top Under-The-Radar Backs ... 1) Ryan Matthews, Jr. Fresno State, 2) MiQuale Lewis, Sr. Ball State, 3) Reggie Arnold, Sr. Arkansas State

The Top 5 Doak Walker Candidates
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, Soph. Oregon State - He'll need another splashy USC-like win to get on the national radar again, but every who matters knows all about his value and talent.

4. Darrell Scott, Soph. Colorado - He'll have to split carries too often to put up the necessary stats to win the Doak, but last year's uber-recruit is the real deal and is about to show why.

3. Kendall Hunter, Jr. Oklahoma State - The Cowboys will put up tremendous numbers and Hunter should be around 1,800 yards if everything goes well. If he goes nuts against Texas and/or Oklahoma, the Doak might be his.

2. C.J. Spiller, Sr. Clemson - Everyone has been waiting to see what he can do as the focal point of the offense. If he can stay healthy, he'll be one of the signature stars of the 2009 season. To win the Doak Walker, though, he might have to carry the Tigers to the ACC title.

1. Jahvid Best, Jr. California - He has to stay healthy and he needs to come up big in the critical games, but he has the ability to rip up ridiculous stats when everything is working right. Now it's up to everyone off the Left Coast to pay attention.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Your Top Doak Walker Candidates

Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech – More than just the best combination of power and speed in the country, Dwyer is also perfectly situated in an offense that helps showcase all of his skills. After rumbling for 1,395 yards a year ago, the 6-0, 235-pound freight train could be eyeing a national rushing title.

Jahvid Best, Cal – If the award was based solely on excitement, electricity and homerun potential, Best would be in a class by himself. A 5-10, 195-pound blur in the open field, he averaged almost eight yards a carry and went for at least 186 yards in each the final three games. If he finally stays healthy for an entire year, the sky’s the limit.

Charles Scott, LSU – Scott rushed for a quiet 1,174 yards that was pretty much lost in a disappointing 8-5 season for the Tigers. However, now he gets to be the focal point of an offense that figures to be a little more unpredictable with Jordan Jefferson at the controls.

C.J. Spiller, Clemson – An East Coast version of Best, Spiller has killer speed and a burst through the hole that makes him a strong contender to be the first running back taken in next April’s NFL Draft. James Davis is no longer around, which means more snaps and carries to beef up the brag sheet.

Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State – Did any prolific back get less attention last season than Hunter? Even after rushing for 1,555 yards, catching 22 passes, and scoring 17 touchdowns, he wasn’t even the most ballyhooed player on his own offense. That’ll begin to change, even though QB Zac Robinson and WR Dez Bryant are back for another year in Stillwater.

LeGarrette Blount, Oregon – Few schools in the country run the ball better than Oregon. The new feature back of that attack is Blount, a 6-2, 240-pound force, who’ll no longer have to share carries with Jeremiah Johnson. In his debut out of junior college, a part-time role, he jetted for more than 1,000 yards and 17 scores.

Sleeper: Michael Smith, Arkansas – Smith is not Darren McFadden. His numbers, however, were strikingly similar to his predecessor during a torrid streak last October. Over a four-game period, he burned Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, and Ole Miss for more than 600 yards. If he can hold up for 12 games, he’s capable of winning the SEC rushing title, especially now that opponents must respect the passing game.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Your Top Doak Walker Candidates

: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State – He'll have every chance to enhance his already considerable reputation in the competitive cauldron of the Big 12 South.

Chris Brown, Oklahoma – Stands to benefit from the bulls-eye squarely placed on teammate Sam Bradford’s back.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State – Stafon Johnson of USC and LeGarrette Blount of Oregon aren’t chopped liver, but Rodgers’s slithering, slippery style stole the show in the Pac-10 last season. If this spiritual descendant of Lionel “Little Train” James doesn’t suffer a sophomore jinx, he’ll own the carries and conquests needed to become the best running back in the land.

Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech – Safe to say, Yellow Jacket coach Paul Johnson enabled his running backs to see the (day)light in 2008, as a consequence of his newly-installed triple option attack. In year two, Dwyer—the prime beneficiary of Johnson’s system—could become an even bigger home-run threat.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: Your Top Doak Walker Candidates

This is probably the most exciting individual award race to watch outside of the Heisman. Outside of last season’s winner, Shonn Greene, every recipient of the Doak Walker Award has gone on to become a first-round pick in the NFL Draft since 2001 when Luke Staley took it home. In fact, since the award’s debut in 1990, only six times has it gone to a player selected outside of round one. This year, with more than a few underclassmen vying to become the country’s top rusher, we might have to wait an extra season to find out if the trend will continue. Of course, both of my top two candidates are likely good enough to skip their remaining eligibility and enter the 2010 crapshoot.

For my money, it’ll be hard to find a guy with a better shot than Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer. He’s got the exposure after the nation turned their eye’s towards Atlanta last year in wonderment. Everyone wanted to know if Paul Johnson could drive the option to success in a BCS conference, and Dwyer was a huge part of the pit crew that proved the “outdated” system could work. Now it’s the option’s turn to return the favor to the junior, and he’ll get the carries and the yards and the touchdowns, all stats that the trophy has been particularly fond of. The only drawback for Dwyer? He could lose some touches to budding star Roddy Jones.

If there’s one other guy who deserves as much hype as Dwyer, it’s Cal’s Jahvid Best. Best is more of a Reggie Bush type than a pounder like Dwyer, but his flash could be a huge asset when going up against a more powerful back. No tailback in the country is as electric as Best, and his 8.1 yards per carry last season are proof enough. His 1580 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns weren’t too shabby either. Like Dwyer, Best does have a weakness, but his biggest hurdle won’t come from a fellow Bear, it’ll come from his own body. Best has yet to stay healthy for an entire season, but if he can do it in 2009 he should have the numbers and the highlights to run away with the honor.

It wouldn’t hurt if Cal finally finishes strong and keeps some of the spotlight on Berkeley. But just for fun, I’ll mention a major dark horse here – Nevada’s Vai Taua. Taua loses some hype points to teammate Colin Kaepernick, but you can’t argue with the fact that he racked up 1521 yards and 15 TDs on the ground while adding 30 catches and three scores through the air. He might not ever make it into the limelight on a scale large enough to steal any votes, but he’s a guy to watch this fall.

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: Your Top Doak Walker Candidates

A: Shonn Greene of Iowa came out of nowhere last year to win this award. Literally nowhere; he was hauling furniture as a part time job in 2008 while sitting out a year due to academic shortcomings. The Big Ten might be a good bet for another Doak Walker this year, as John Clay of Wisconsin will receive the majority of the carries now that P.J. Hill is no longer there. So many of the nation’s top running backs either graduated or left early last year that this field is wide open, and Clay is a very proven back in a system that features the running game. Jahvid Best of California is another name to keep atop this list, as he has over 1,500 yards last year and returns for his junior season. Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State racked up 1,555 yards last year and he is back as well.