If there was any doubt about the quality of the Doak Walker Award finalists, consider who didn’t make the list for top running back.
Rashaad Penny of San Diego State leads the nation in rushing with 2,027 yards but won’t be in Atlanta on Thursday when the award is given out as part of ESPN’s College Football Awards Show.
The three finalists: Stanford junior Bryce Love, Penn State junior Saquon Barkley and Wisconsin freshman Jonathan Taylor.
Finalists: Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; Roquan Smith, Georgia. Finalists: DeShon Elliott, Texas; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; Josh Jackson, Iowa.
Heisman finalist Love replaced Christian McCaffrey at Stanford and rushed for 1,973 yards with 12 runs of at least 50 yards.
Barkley was an early Heisman favorite before Big Ten defenses began keying on him. He still rushed for 1,134 yards and 16 touchdowns while also catching 47 passes.
Taylor may not win it this season but could go into 2018 as the favorite after amassing 1,847 yards and 13 TDs.
Here’s a look at the other awards:
Chuck Bednarik (Defensive player)
Comment: Fitzpatrick was the unquestioned leader of Alabama’s defense. Smith led Georgia’s surge into the College Football Playoff and was dominant in the SEC title game. Chubb was disruptive forced with 10 sacks and 26 tackles-for-loss.
Fred Biletnikoff Award (Receiver)
Finalists: Michael Gallup, Colorado State; David Sills V, West Virginia; James Washington, Oklahoma State.
Comment: Sills is a great story as a former quarterback prodigy who led the nation in touchdown passes but Washington is the likely winner. He amassed an FBS-best 1,423 receiving yards while averaging 20.6 yards per catch.
Lou Groza Award (Kicker)
Finalists: Daniel Carlson, Auburn; Dominik Eberle, Utah State; Matt Gay, Utah.
Comment: A former walk-on, Gay is an interesting story. He leads the nation in field goals (27) including eight of 50 yards plus.
Ray Guy Award (Punter)
Finalists: Michael Dickson, Texas; JK Scott, Alabama; Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah.
Comment: Wishnowsky won last year, but Dickson may dethrone his fellow Aussie. Dickson averages a FBS-best 48.4 yards per punt with a 44.7 net average and downed 32 punts inside the 20.
Maxwell Award (Player of the year)
Finalists: Saquon Barkley, Penn State; Bryce Love, Stanford; Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma.
Comment: The Maxwell has been known to zig where the Heisman zags. Only four of the seven Heisman winners this decade have also claimed the Maxwell. If not Mayfield, Barkley would be a popular choice in Philadelphia.
Davey O’Brien Award (Quarterback)
Finalists: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State.
Comment: Like the Heisman, character is one of the components of the Davey O’Brien. Will Mayfield’s conduct and image cost him despite an impressive season? Rudolph, who won the Unitas Award, put up big numbers and Barrett has a stellar career.
Outland Trophy (Interior linemen)
Finalists: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma; Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; Ed Oliver, Houston.
Comment: Oliver is a dominant defensive tackle. Nelson got a lot of attention early as part of the Irish’s quick start. The mammoth Brown (6-8, 345) leads the Big 12’s best O-line.
Jim Thorpe Award (Defensive back)
Comment: Fitzpatrick had the name recognition and Alabama pedigre. Rockwall product Elliott enjoyed a breakout season with six interceptions. The folks at Pro Football Focus were praising Jackson even before the former Lake Dallas standout had a three-interception game against Iowa.
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