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The Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet

The prestigious Doak Walker Award was created in 1989 to honor the nation’s most outstanding collegiate running back. Named for the 1948 Heisman Trophy winner and three-time All-America selection from SMU, the Doak Walker Award recognizes a football player’s outstanding performance on the field, as well as his achievements in the community and in the classroom.

2023 Doak Walker Award

Ollie Gordon, II

Gordon, a 6-1, 211-pound Oklahoma State true sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas, leads the country with 1,614 rushing yards and is second with 20 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown, and his 1,940 total yards from scrimmage also lead the country. He beat out fellow finalists North Carolina’s Omarion Hampton and Missouri’s Cody Schrader for the award.
Gordon showed some flashes of greatness in the final regular-season game as a true freshman last season when he ran for 136 yards against West Virginia. But it wasn’t until this season’s fourth game when he found his stride after carrying the ball just 19 times over the season’s first three weeks. He then ripped off six straight 100-yard games, including 282 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia and 271 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati. For those two games, he earned the Doak Walker National Running Back of the Week honor. Leading up to those two huge games, he ran for 168 yards against Kansas. In all, he was the national running back of the week an unprecedented three straight weeks this season.

Ollie Gordon, II

2023 Doak Walker Legends Award

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith is a professional football icon and one of the greatest to ever play the game. In his 15 seasons as a running back in the National Football League, Smith amassed many records that still stand today, including most career rushing yards and most career rushing touchdowns. Smith’s impressive resume includes three Super Bowl championship rings, his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, and, most recently in 2019, his selection to the NFL 100 All-Time Team (a prestigious list honoring the best players of the NFL's first 100 years).

As a first-round pick in the 1990 NFL draft, Smith was the cornerstone of the Dallas Cowboys offense for 13 seasons. The eight-time Pro Bowler was the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons and, on October 27, 2002, he surpassed Walter Payton as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

After his playing days, Smith served as a football analyst and then took his television career a step further when he won the third season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, during which he was dubbed “the king of effortless cool.” He also added author to his list of accomplishments, publishing Game On, which outlines the principles that helped him succeed both on and off the field.

Smith has transitioned to the role of businessman and entrepreneur and runs several companies spanning real estate, construction and technology. He is active in charitable outreach in the Dallas area and on a national level, providing educational opportunities and unique experiences for underserved youth. 

In August 2021, it was announced that Smith became a co-owner of a NASCAR team partnering with Jesse Iwuji Motorsports for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. A major theme of Smith and Iwuji’s partnership centers on STEM education for lower income communities and diversity and inclusion initiatives within the sport of NASCAR.

Smith resides in Dallas and, among his athletic accomplishments and business endeavors, is foremost a father of five kids. 

Emmitt Smith

The Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee

Each summer, all NCAA FBS colleges and universities are invited to nominate a running back from their respective football teams. Prior to the end of the college football season, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors convenes to select semifinalists for the award. The Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, comprised of sports writers, television commentators, analysts, radio sports personalities and former All-America and All-Pro football players, then narrows the field to three finalists and determines the recipient.

The recipient of the Doak Walker Award is announced in December during The Home Depot College Football Awards and is honored at the Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet in Dallas in February.

In 1998, the Athletic Forum created the PwC Doak Walker Legends Award to honor former running backs who excelled at the collegiate level and went on to distinguish themselves as community leaders.

These awards are presented by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum, widely regarded as America’s preeminent sports lecture series, hosting four annual luncheons and the Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet. The Doak Walker Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards.