Three Conference USA running backs are among the 10 semifinalists for the 2007 Doak Walker Award, as announced by the Guaranty Bank SMU Athletic Forum. The award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back, is in its 18th year of existence. Houston’s Anthony Alridge, Tulane’s Matt Forte’ and UCF’s Kevin Smith are C-USA’s three semifinalists, which were the most of any conference.
Alridge is currently ranked sixth in the FBS in rushing yards per game at 130.8. He has carried 208 times for 1,308 yards, an average of 6.3 per carry, while catching 33 passes for 371 yards. Alridge has played a role in 16 touchdowns this season, rushing for 11, catching four and throwing one. He has posted a pair of 200-yard rushing days, gaining 205 yards each in games at Oregon and against Rice.
Forte’ leads the FBS in rushing yards (a Tulane-record 1,813) and rushing yards per game (181.30), averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 297 attempts. He owns three of the top seven individual-game rushing performances in the nation in 2007, including 342 yards and 4 TDs at SMU, 303 yards and 5 TDs vs. Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 22) and 278 yards and 2 TDs vs. Memphis. Forte’ has five 200-plus yard rushing games – including two 300-plus yard games – in 2007 making him the only NCAA Division I-Bowl Subdivision player to accomplish that feat this season. He is ranked seventh in the nation in scoring with 17 touchdowns. Twice he earned Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week honors, becoming the first player to earn the distinction more than once in a season since 2004.
Smith is coming off a career-high 320-yard game at UAB and is ranked second in the FBS in rushing at 176.8 yards per game. He has carried 310 times for a school-record 1,768 yards. Smith also leads the FBS in scoring with a C-USA record-tying 23 touchdowns. During the Knights' current four-game winning streak, Smith has rushed for 853 yards and 11 touchdowns (12 total). Smith now has eight multiple-touchdown games this season and nine 100-yard rushing efforts (both tops in the FBS). He has been named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week three times.
The other semifinalists are Jamaal Charles of Texas, Mike Hart of Michigan, Felix Jones of Arkansas, Darren McFadden of Arkansas, Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois, Ray Rice of Rutgers and Jonathan Stewart of Oregon.
The 162 members of the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast their votes this week to determine the 2007 finalists.
On Monday, November 19, three finalists will be named, and a second vote by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will determine the recipient. The 2007 Doak Walker Award recipient will be announced live on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards on Thursday, December 6.
The award is named after three-time SMU All-American running back and1948 Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker. Walker, who also punted, returned kicks and kicked extra points, led the Mustangs to two Southwest Conference Championships. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions and led the league in scoring his rookie year. During his six years with the Lions, he led the team to two NFL championships and was chosen All-Pro four times. Walker is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.