July 19, 2012
The PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced today the preseason candidates for the 2012 Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the nation's top college running back. Conference USA had four representatives on the 52-man list: SMU senior Zach Line, Tulane junior Orleans Darkwa, UCF senior Latavius Murray and UTEP sophomore Nathan Jeffery.
Line, a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award last year, was named first-team All-Conference USA in both 2010 and 2011 and led the league in rushing both years. Last season, Line suffered a foot injury and missed the last three games of the season but still ranked seventh in the nation in rushing at 122.4 yards a game. He posted eight 100-yard rushing games in 10 games played and ran for a league-high 17 touchdowns. Line has also been named to the 2012 Watch List for the Maxwell Award, which is given to America's outstanding collegiate football player.
Darkwa ranked second in C-USA last season and second in Tulane single-season history with 13 rushing touchdowns last season. Darkwa finished the 2011 season with 924 yards on 210 carries and also caught a team-high 37 passes for 305 yards. His rushing yardage total ranks 10th on the school's single season list, while his carries were the sixth-most.
Murray is tied for fifth all-time at UCF with 22 rushing touchdowns, while he has 1,318 rushing yards on 255 attempts for a 5.2 yard average. In the season finale vs. UTEP, he amassed 233 rushing yards which marked the fourth-best rushing performance in school history. He also had two touchdowns on the ground as well as one in the air, helping him earn CFPA National Running Back of the Week accolades. Murray finished 2012 by posting at least one reception in the final seven contests and ranked fifth on the team with 242 receiving yards. He would later be named the 2012 team MVP.
Jeffery saw limited duty as a freshman, carrying 26 times for 166 yards and one touchdown. He also caught 10 passes for 124 yards and two scores. Jeffery was the star of the Miners spring game, carrying the ball 18 times for 122 yards.
The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name the semifinalists November 9, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast votes to determine the finalists, who will be announced November 19. The committee will cast a second vote beginning November 26 to determine the recipient. The National Selection Committee consists of former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives.
The recipient of the 2012 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards Thursday, December 6, on ESPN. The Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet will be held in Dallas, Texas, in February 2013.
The award, in its 23rd year, is named for SMU's three-time All-America running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification.