Doak Walker Award

Past Recipients


Walker had an outstanding regular season and ranks second nationally in total rushing yards (1,636) and rushing yards per game (142.5). Walker, the first Michigan State player to win the Doak Walker Award, joined the program in January of 2021 after transferring from Wake Forest. He made an immediate impact rushing for a career high 264 yards in his first game with the Spartans, leading them to a victory over Northwestern. On October 30, Walker rushed for 197 yards and a career high five touchdowns in a victory versus rival Michigan. He finished the season leading the nation in both yards after contact (1,154) and carries over 20 yards (21). He was named Big Ten Running Back of the Year and co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.


Harris, a senior from Antioch, California, led the nation in 2020 with 30 touchdowns and was ranked third nationally in total rushing yards with 1,466. In only 10 regular season games, his highlights include a season-high 206 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns versus Ole Miss; 245 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in SEC Championship game versus Florida, and three touchdowns vs. Ohio State, leading Alabama to a victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Harris ended his career at Alabama as the school's all-time leader in career rushing yards (3,843) and total touchdowns (57).


Taylor, from Salem, New Jersey, led the nation in rushing in 2018 averaging 165.8 yards per game and running for 1,989 yards. He rushed for at least 100 yards in 12 games, including a season best 321 rushing yards vs. Purdue. Taylor, who was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award in 2017, is the fourth player in FBS history to rush for over 1,900 yards in back-to-back seasons and his 4,171 career rushing yards are the most by an FBS running back through his sophomore season.


Love, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, rushed for 2,118 yards on 263 attempts in 2017. His 8.1 yards per carry average established a FBS record for players with 215 or more carries. Love also set an FBS with 13 carries of 50 yards or more in a season. In his breakout junior season, Love became Stanford’s single-season leader, and rushed for at least 100 yards in 12 games, including a season-high 301 yards vs. Arizona State.


Foreman, from Texas City, Texas, played through a broken hand and in just 11 games in 2016 but was the nation's leader in total rushing yards (2,028) and bested the NCAA in rushing yards per game by nearly 30 yards with a 184.4 per game average. Foreman closed his career with 13-straight 100-yard games, had three 200+ games in 2016 and a 341-yard output on Nov. 5, 2016. The Houston Texas drafted Foreman in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.


Henry, from Yulee, Florida, led the nation in total rushing yards (2,219), rushing attempts (395) and rushing touchdowns (28) leading the Alabama Crimson Tide to the SEC championship and College Football Playoff championship. Also the Heisman Trophy recipient, Henry carried the ball a remarkable 46 and 44 times in consecutive weeks at the end of the season and scored three touchdowns in the College Football Playoff championship game, his final collegiate game. The Tennessee Titans drafted Henry in the second round.


Gordon, a Kenosha, Wisconsin native, led the nation in total rushing yards (2,587), rushing yards per game (184.8) and rushing touchdowns (29). Gordon closed his dream season with a 251-yard performance in the Outback Bowl, landing him at No. 2 on the FBS all-time single-season rushing list. He rushed for at least 200 yards in six games, including a 408-yard output against Nebraska on Nov. 15, 2014, the highest single-game total in FBS history at the time. The San Diego Chargers drafted Gordon 15th overall.


Williams, from Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, rushed for 2,177 yards in 2013 and led the nation in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game. He rushed for over 200 yards five times in 2013 and ran for more yards in a single season than any other Doak Walker Award recipients. Williams finished 2013 ranked fifth on the all-time FBS single season rushing list. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the 2014 NFL Draft. 


Montee Ball, from Wentzville, Missouri, rushed for 1,730 yards and 21 touchdowns during the 2012 season, and helped lead Wisconsin to their third consecutive Big Ten title. He compiled nine 100-yard rushing games including two 200-yard rushing performances in 2012. Ball scored more career touchdowns (82) and career rushing touchdowns (76) than any player in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history. Ball’s impressive collegiate career concluded when he and the Badgers faced Stanford in the Rose Bowl.


Trent Richardson, from Pensacola, FL, rushed for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns during the 2011 season. In addition, he accounted for 327 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield. Richardson’s 1,910 yards from scrimmage ranked second nationally among running backs. In 2011, Richardson averaged six yards per carry and amassed almost 50 percent of rushing yards after contact. He had nine 100-yard rushing games to his credit during the 2011 season, and rushed for a season best 203 yards in Alabama’s final regular season game. Richardson and the Crimson Tide defeated LSU in the BCS National Championship on January 9, 2012 taking home their second BCS title in three years.


LaMichael James, from Texarkana, TX, was the nation’s leading rusher during the 2010 season in both total yards (1,682) and rushing yards per game (152.9). James also led the nation in scoring, averaging two touchdowns (12 points) per game. James had nine 100-yard rushing games to his credit during the 2010 season, and rushed for a season best 257 yards vs. Stanford on October 2, 2010. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, James was named to the Pac-10’s All-Academic first team in 2010. James and the Ducks faced Auburn in the BCS National Championship on January 10.


Toby Gerhart, from Norco, CA, ranked first nationally in total rushing with 1,736 yards and 160 points scored at the end of 2009. Gerhart had ten 100-yard games to his credit during the 2009 season, rushed for 100 or more yards 19 times in his career, and rushed for an outstanding 26 touchdowns during his last season with Stanford..


Shonn Greene, from Sicklerville, NJ, ranked second nationally with 1,729 rushing yards at the end of the 2008 season. The Hawkeye single-season rushing leader rushed for over 100 yards in all twelve of Iowa’s games in 2008, and rushed for 17 touchdowns. Greene and the Hawkeyes faced South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2009. “Shonn has been consistently dominant throughout the season and his performances in big games have been the key to Iowa’s success,” said CBS’ Verne Lundquist, a member of the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee and presenter of the 2008 Award. During the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Jets made Greene the first pick in third round.


In 2007, Darren McFadden became only the second player to win the Doak Walker Award twice. He finished the 2007 season with 1,830 rushing yards, surpassing the previous year’s 1,647. In addition to the Doak Walker Award, the Arkansas running back ended his collegiate career by taking home the Walter Camp Player of the Year and earning recognition as the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year. His tight second place finish for the 2007 Heisman trophy garnered him the highest percentage of first-place votes ever received by a runner-up. During the 2008 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders made McFadden the fourth overall pick.


McFadden, a Little Rock native, is the first sophomore to win the award. In 2006, the all-purpose threat accounted for 19 touchdowns rushing, receiving and passing. He led the SEC with 1,647 rushing yards, setting the Arkansas single-season rushing record. “He’s as big and fast as two of the greatest, Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson. He’s reminiscent of Doak Walker in that he runs, catches, AND passes. Now, I’m anxious to see him punt and place-kick ,” said CBS’ Verne Lundquist, a member of the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee.


As a junior, Reggie Bush won the Doak Walker Award, Heisman Trophy and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. Bush compiled 1,740 rushing yards and averaged a national best 8.7 yards per carry in 2005. Bush also led the nation in all-purpose yards per game and total all-purpose yards. In fact, Bush’s season all-purpose yardage total of 2,890 was the third highest in NCAA Division I-A history. In his three seasons at USC, Bush and the Trojans went 37-2 and ran off an astonishing 34-game win streak. The New Orleans Saints made Bush the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.


Cedric Benson rushed for 1,764 yards in 2004. He led the Big 12 and was fourth nationally in rushing yards per game during his senior season. Benson became the first Texas player and only the fifth in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. Benson is sixth in total career rushing yards on the NCAA all-time list, and surpassed Earl Campbell to take over second on the UT career rushing list. The Chicago Bears made Benson the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.


Chris Perry rushed for 1,589 yards and gained an additional 366 yards receiving in 2003. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and finished the regular season ranked fourth nationally in rushing yards per game and total rushing yards. His 154 yards and two touchdowns helped Michigan secure a victory over defending national champion and archrival Ohio State, earning the Big Ten title and an appearance in the Rose Bowl for the Wolverines. Perry was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, 26th overall, by the Cincinnati Bengals.


As a college senior, Larry Johnson won the Doak Walker Award, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. A finalist for the Heisman Trophy, he led the nation in rushing, and became just the ninth player in NCAA Division I-A history and the first in the 107-year history of the Big Ten Conference to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Johnson totaled 2,015 yards on 251 carries, and also led the nation in rushing yards per game and all-purpose yards per game. He was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, 27th overall, by the Kansas City Chiefs.


As a junior, Luke Staley earned the 2001 Doak Walker Award by leading the nation in scoring with 14.2 points per game and touchdowns with 28. He averaged an astounding 8.1 yards per carry, which was also a national best. Staley decided to forgo his senior season to enter the 2002 NFL Draft, and he was a seventh round selection of the Detroit Lions.


LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU dominated as the nation's leading rusher in 1999 and 2000 and was the winner of the 2000 Doak Walker Award. Tomlinson was the fifth overall selection by the San Diego Chargers in the 2001 NFL Draft. LaDainian was honored at the 2000 Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet on Tuesday, January 30, 2001, in Dallas.


As a college senior, Dayne won the Doak Walker Award, the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. His 6,397 career rushing yards are the most in NCAA history. He was drafted in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft, 11th overall, by the New York Giants. During his rookie season, Dayne shared time in the backfield with Tiki Barber as part of the team's Thunder and Lightning running back tandem.


By winning the 1998 Doak Walker Award, Williams became the first running back to do so twice. He finished his Longhorn career with 2,124 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns, winning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year along the way. The New Orleans Saints picked him in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. He rushed for 884 yards as a rookie and reached the 1,000-yard mark last year before an ankle injury ended his season.


Sometimes change is for the best, and it certainly was for Ricky Williams. A switch from fullback to tailback made Williams the featured weapon in the Longhorn offense. He responded with 1,893 rushing yards, including six games over the 200-yard mark. His incredible numbers earned him first team All-America honors and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year award. He also became the first Texas player to lead the NCAA in a statistical category after topping the nation with 172.1 yards and 13.8 points per game.


Hanspard became the second running back named Byron from Texas Tech to win the Doak Walker Award, joining 1993 recipient Byron "Bam" Morris. He finished his Red Raider career as the school's all-time leading rusher, and his 2,084 yards in 1996 rank as the sixth best single season total in NCAA history. Hanspard was picked in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, where he earned NFL All-Rookie honors as a kick returner after taking back two kickoffs for scores in his first season.


The winner of the 1995 Heisman Trophy, George set Ohio State single-season records with 1,927 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. The Houston Oilers chose him 14th overall in the 1996 NFL Draft, and he earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors after running for 1,368 yards. In 1998, George became just the sixth player in NFL history to run for over 4,000 yards in his first three seasons. He led the Tennessee Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl and gained 95 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns in the game.


This Colorado Buffalo rumbled his way to 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior to claim the 1994 Doak Walker Award. Salaam also earned first-team All-America honors, won the 1994 Heisman Trophy and was a first round pick of the Chicago Bears in the 1995 NFL Draft. He set a club rookie record for rushing attempts with 296 and rushing yards with 1,074. He was also the recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award for loyalty, courage and teamwork.


Morris crushed his way through opposing defenses during his senior season for 1,752 yards to break Earl Campbell's single-season Southwest Conference rushing record. The Pittsburgh Steelers took him in the third round of the 1994 NFL Draft. In his second season in the NFL, Morris appeared in the Super Bowl and ran for 73 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown. Morris has since played for both the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs.


As a senior, this Georgia Bulldog set four Southeastern Conference records en route to winning the 1992 Doak Walker Award. The Arizona Cardinals drafted him in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft, and he currently plays for the San Francisco 49ers. He was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1995 when he rushed for 1,070 yards after suffering a severe knee injury the previous year. His best NFL season came in 1998, when he rushed for a 49ers team record 1,570 yards and was chosen to play in his first Pro Bowl.


Cobb is the Southwest Conference leader in rushing attempts (1,091) and all-purpose yards (6,521). His senior year, he was named first team all-American by the Associated Press, Kodak and the Football News. He was inducted into the Rice University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.


Lewis ran for 1,279 yards as a senior at Washington and was named the first-ever winner of the Doak Walker Award. He also became the first Huskies running back ever to earn All-America honors that year. The Denver Broncos made him a fifth-round pick in the 1991 NFL Draft, and Lewis played in the Mile High City for two seasons before retiring in 1992.