MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin running backs Montee Ball and James White have been named as candidates for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s top tailback.
Ball, a 2011 Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker finalist, led the country with 1,923 yards rushing last season. He scored at least two touchdowns in each of the first 13 games and tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA FBS record with 39 touchdowns scored.
White, the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, finished the 2011 season with 863 yards from scrimmage, including 713 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He and Ball helped the Badgers lead the Big Ten with 235.6 rushing yards per game, as well as 469.9 total yards and 44.1 points per game.
Wisconsin and TCU are the only two schools with two running backs represented on the Doak Walker Award preseason watch list.
Ball is one of four semifinalists from last year to reappear on the Doak Walker Award list, along with Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead, Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle and SMU’s Zach Line. Other Big Ten running backs among the field of 52 candidates are Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, Ohio State’s Jordan Hall, Penn State’s Silas Redd and Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint.
Ball and White are just the latest in a string of Wisconsin running backs in recent years up for the Doak Walker Award. In 1999, Ron Dayne became the Badgers’ first winner of the award after being named a finalist in 1998. Anthony Davis (2001), Brian Calhoun (2005) and P.J. Hill (2006) were semifinalists, and John Clay was a finalist in 2010.
The field of candidates will be narrowed down on Nov. 19 when the voting committee selects finalists. A vote will be held on Nov. 26 to determine the winner, which will be announced live on Dec. 6 on ESPN.