2015 - Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
During his lone season as the starting running back in 1988, Sanders was an All-American and winner of the Heisman Trophy in what is widely considered the greatest individual season in college football history. Sanders set 34 NCAA records, including 2,628 yards rushing and 37 touchdowns, records that still stand to this day. He rushed for more than 200 yards in the final six games of his career and eclipsed 300 yards three times in that span, giving him four 300+-yard games during the season.
Sanders was the third overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft and proceeded to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award that year as he rushed for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns. In his second season, he won his first of four NFL rushing titles. Sanders’ greatest NFL season came in 1997 when he tallied 2,053 yards, becoming just the third player at the time to amass at least 2,000 yards rushing. Sanders retired following the 1999 season as the second-leading rusher in NFL history and currently sits third on the all-time list. He is a member of the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame.
2014 - Bo Jackson, Auburn
Jackson was a two-time All-America selection at Auburn and recipient of the 1985 Heisman Trophy. In 1985, Jackson rushed for 1,786 yards, the fourth-best season in SEC history. His 4,303 career rushing yards are the fourth-best mark in SEC history and his 43 career rushing touchdowns are sixth-best in the SEC. Jackson also starred in baseball, hitting .401 in 1985, and qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Championships in the 100-meter dash as a freshman and sophomore. His No. 34 is one of three numbers retired at Auburn.
Despite being drafted first overall in the 1986 NFL draft, Jackson chose to pursue his baseball career before signing with the Los Angeles Raiders during the middle of the 1987 season. In four NFL seasons, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards, including a career-best 950 in 1989. Jackson was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1990 which, coupled with a 1989 MLB All-Star selection, made him the only athlete selected as an all-star in two major professional sports.
2013 - Floyd Little, Syracuse
Little was a three-time All-America selection at Syracuse. The versatile halfback led the nation in all-purpose yards in his junior season and is considered the greatest return man in Syracuse history. He led the Orange to a Sugar Bowl victory in 1964 and a Gator Bowl victory in 1966. Little was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
The Denver Broncos drafted Little in the first round of the 1967 AFL-NFL draft. He led the AFL in punt return average in his rookie season. “The Franchise,” as he was known in Denver, became the first Bronco to win the AFC rushing title in 1970 and became the first Bronco to rush for over 1,000 yards in 1971. Little was a two-time AFL all-star and three-time Pro Bowl selection. In his professional career he accounted for over 12,000 yards and 53 touchdowns. Little was selected for the Broncos’ Ring of Fame in 1984 and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
2012 - Jim Brown, Syracuse
Jim Brown was a unanimous All-America selection in 1956 as a senior at Syracuse. The versatile halfback also handled place kicking for the Orange, and once accounted for 43 points (six touchdowns and seven extra points) in a 61-7 victory over Colgate. In addition to football, Brown lettered in basketball, lacrosse and track & field while at Syracuse and he was widely considered the best lacrosse player in nation. Brown is a member of both the College Football and National Lacrosse Halls of Fame.
The Cleveland Browns drafted Brown in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft, and he went on to win Rookie of the Year honors. In nine seasons with the Browns, he established the NFL single season rushing record (1,863 yards) and the career rushing record (12,312 yards). Brown was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his nine NFL seasons and is the only back in NFL history to achieve a career average of over 100 yards per game. Brown retired from the NFL after nine seasons and went on to a career in acting and dedicated himself to community service. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
2011 - Tommy McDonald, Oklahoma
McDonald was an All-America selection in 1955 and 1956 while at Oklahoma, and the Sooners were undefeated during McDonald’s college career going 31-0 from 1954 - 1956. He received the Maxwell Award in 1956, and was a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy in the same year.
McDonald went on to a successful career in the NFL, after the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in the third round. He led the Eagles to an NFL Championship in 1960 and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. McDonald retired in 1968 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
2010 - Jim Taylor, LSU/Green Bay Packers
During the two seasons Jim Taylor played for the Louisiana State University Tigers (1956 and 1957), he became the first player in history to lead the SEC in rushing for two consecutive years. Taylor was also the first fullback in LSU history to earn All-America honors. He was named LSU's and the Senior Bowl's MVP and was inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame in 1957.
Taylor went on to find great success in his ten year NFL career. As a member of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, he was a six-time All-Pro selection and three-time NFL champion. Taylor helped lead the Packers to victory in Super Bowl I, scoring the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.
2009 - Eric Dickerson and Craig James, SMU
From 1979-82, teammates Dickerson and James, collectively known as the “Pony Express”, led SMU to national prominence. In their careers, they combined for 8,192 rushing yards and 70 rushing touchdowns which remains a NCAA career record for a duo. They led SMU to national championships in 1981 and 1982.
Dickerson was a two-time All-America choice for SMU and finished third in the 1982 Heisman voting. He is SMU’s career and single-season rushing record holder. Dickerson went on to an 11-year NFL career where he was voted All-Pro six times and established the current NFL rushing record when he ran for an astonishing 2,105 yards in 1984. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
James was a three-time All-Southwest Conference selection at SMU and ranks third on SMU’s all-time rushing list. James was the first player in the Southwest Conference since 1951 to be voted All-Conference at two positions (running back and punter). He went on to a productive professional career with the New England Patriots where he was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 1985 and voted to the Pro Bowl in 1986.
2008 – Calvin Hill, Yale
Hill led Yale to Ivy League championships in 1967 and 1968. The Bulldogs went undefeated and Hill was selected as an All-American in 1968. Hill was a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1969, and went on to earn NFL Rookie of the Year and All-Pro honors in his inaugural year. In 1972, Hill became the first Cowboy running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. The four-time Pro Bowl selection played 12 seasons in the NFL. In addition to the Cowboys, Hill also played for the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns. Since his retirement from football, Hill has served as the Vice President of the Baltimore Orioles and is currently a consultant for the Dallas Cowboys.
2007– Marcus Allen, USC
Marcus Allen is one of the greatest running backs of all-time. A former Heisman Trophy winner, his contributions to the NFL and the college game are legendary. He played more games (222), rushed for more touchdowns (123), and caught more passes than any other running back in his era. During his college career at USC, Allen became the first college player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season in 1981. That same year he went on to score a record 22 rushing touchdowns and set 13 NCAA records. He played 16 years with both the Los Angeles Raiders and the Kansas City Chief during his NFL career where he gained 12,243 yards rushing, 5,411 yards receiving, and scored 145 total touchdowns. The MVP of Super Bowl XVIII and NFL Rookie of the Year was inducted into the Pro football Hall of Fame in 2003.
2006 – Walter Payton, Jackson State University
Payton was a four-year starter and two-time first team All-American at Jackson State. He rushed for 3,563 yards and set the NCAA scoring record with 464 points. A first round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1975, “Sweetness” played 13 seasons in Chicago and was a nine-time pro bowl selection. The two-time NFL MVP retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. After retiring from the NFL, Payton started Payton Power Equipment Company, a successful provider of heavy equipment to industrial and construction businesses. Payton was known throughout his career for his many philanthropic works. In 1998 the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation was founded to help abused, neglected and underprivileged children.
2005 – Jim Swink, TCU
Jim Swink is considered one the greatest running backs in the storied history of the Southwest Conference. Swink was a consensus All-American in 1955 when he led the nation in scoring (125 points), ranked second in rushing yards and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Swink led TCU to a 9-1 regular season record in 1955, and a victory over Jim Brown and Syracuse in the 1956 Cotton Bowl.
After college Swink, a two-time Academic All-American, chose medical school over an NFL career. After his graduation from Southwestern Medical School, Swink served in the U.S. Army and received numerous medals for his service in Vietnam. The “Rusk Rambler” was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1977 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980. Presently, Swink is an orthopedic surgeon with a practice in Fort Worth, TX.
2004 – John David Crow, Texas A M
John David Crow became Texas A M’s only Heisman Trophy winner, after leading coach Paul "Bear" Bryant’s Aggies to eight victories in 1957. Bryant called Crow the finest player he ever coached, and Crow is the only Heisman winner to ever play for the coaching legend. In addition to accolades for his play, Crow was named a Scholastic All-American for his efforts in the classroom.
After college, Crow embarked on an 11-year NFL career. He was the first round pick of the (then) Chicago Cardinals and his finished his career with the San Francisco 49ers. In his career, Crow played in 4 Pro Bowls, and was named All-Pro halfback on the NFL All-Decade team of the Sixties.
When his professional playing career ended, Crow served as backfield coach for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama, and then for the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers. Crow became Head Coach and Athletic Director at Northeast Louisiana University and later returned to Texas A M where he served as Athletic Director, and Director of Athletic Development. Crow is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
2003 – Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Glenn Davis, Army
From 1944-46, teammates Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Glenn Davis were aptly referred to as "Mr. Inside" and "Mr. Outside". Blanchard won the Heisman Trophy in 1945 while Davis was runner-up. The following year, Davis was the recipient of the coveted award.
Blanchard, "Mr. Inside", scored 38 touchdowns in his career at West Point and gained 1,908 rushing yards in three years. He was a top punter averaging 38.8 yards per kick in 1944 and 33.7 yards per kick in 1945. To this day, he holds the Army record for average kickoff return yards (44.3) in 1946. After graduation, Blanchard spent his entire career with the Army Air Force. A retired Colonel, he lives in Texas.
Davis, "Mr. Outside", dominated opposing defenses, scoring 59 touchdowns in his career and averaging almost one touchdown every nine plays. After his time at West Point , Davis served in the Army in Korea and then went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams. After playing on two championship teams, Davis retired due to injury. He went on to work in public relations for the Los Angeles Times until his retirement.
2002 – Earl Campbell, Texas
Earl Campbell is one of the most revered football players to ever come out of the University of Texas. As a freshman, Campbell rushed for 984 yards and earned Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year honors. Campbell went on to earn All-Southwest conference running back honors in all four of his collegiate seasons, and in his senior year, he capped his UT career by rushing for 1,744 yards and winning the 1977 Heisman Trophy.
In 1978, the Houston Oilers selected Campbell as the number one draft pick. He rushed for an NFL rookie record 1,450 yards and was named league Rookie of the Year along with Most Valuable Player. Campbell's Hall of Fame career lasted eight seasons, and he rushed for 1,000 yards in four of those, winning three NFL rushing titles, going to five straight Pro Bowls and finishing his career with 9,407 rushing yards.
After retiring from football in, he accepted a position with UT as a mentor and ambassador for incoming athletes. Campbell also owns his own business, Earl Campbell Meat Products.
2001 – Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh
Tony Dorsett, Heisman Trophy winner and former star of the Dallas Cowboys, was selected as the 2001 PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award recipient. Dorsett was honored at the 2001 Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet held at the Dallas Fairmont Hotel on Monday, January 28, 2002.
Created as a tribute to the legendary Doak Walker, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award recognizes individuals whose past extraordinary collegiate football careers have been enhanced by an exemplary record of leadership in the community. The SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors selected Gale Sayers as the inaugural winner, Archie Griffin as the 1999 recipient and Pete Dawkins as the 2000 honoree.
2000 – Pete Dawkins, Army
Former Army great Pete Dawkins was honored with the 2000 PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award. The winner of the 1958 Heisman Trophy during his senior year at West Point, star running back Pete Dawkins served as Class President, Cadet First Captain and was ranked 10th in his graduating class of nearly 500.
After graduating, he turned down the opportunity to play professional football with Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He later attended Princeton University, earning an MBA and a PhD.
Dawkins' career in the military was as storied as his tenure on the gridiron. He served for 24 years, including two tours of duty in Vietnam and one in Korea. He reached the rank of Brigadier General, commanded the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and was the youngest General in the Army at the age of 43.
Following his military career, Dawkins became a partner with the prominent Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers. Dawkins is currently the Chairman and CEO of Diversified Distribution Services, Travelers Group in New York City.
Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975, Dawkins has been involved with numerous charitable organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, the Hudson Institute, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and the Vince Lombardi Foundation.
1999 – Archie Griffin, Ohio State
The only two-time winner in the history of the Heisman Trophy, former Ohio State and NFL running back Archie Griffin was the 1999 recipient of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award. Griffin earned college football's top award in 1974 and 1975 and led the Buckeyes to four appearances in the Rose Bowl. He left college football as the NCAA's all-time leading rusher with 5,589 yards.
A standout on the playing field, Griffin personified the term "student-athlete." The priority he placed on his academics allowed him to earn his degree in industrial relations a quarter early.
Following his graduation, Griffin was a first round NFL draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. He played eight seasons in the league and was a member of Cincinnati's 1981 Super Bowl team.
When his playing days ended, Griffin was named an assistant athletic director at his alma mater and is currently an associate athletic director there. Griffin also works with the Children's Center for Child Abuse Prevention and the Children's Hospital of Columbus. He is the national spokesman for Wendy's High School Heisman, which recognizes prep seniors for accomplishments on and off the playing field.
1998 – Gale Sayers, Kansas
Former Kansas All-American and NFL All-Pro Gale Sayers was the inaugural winner of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award in 1998. The "Kansas Comet" starred for the Jayhawks from 1961-65, earning All-America honors as a junior and senior and was a first round pick in the NFL Draft of the Chicago Bears.
Although his NFL career was abbreviated due to a knee injury, Sayers is considered by many as the greatest open field runner to ever grace the league. In 1977, at 34, he was the youngest ever to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Since retiring from the NFL, Sayers has served as commissioner of the Chicago Park District, directed the Chicago's "Reach Out" program for underprivileged youth and was a national board member for Junior Achievement. He has also worked with the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Boy Scouts of America Chicago Chapter.
Sayers and his wife, Ardythe, founded Sayers Computer Source in 1984. The technical company supports several charities and community projects in Chicago.