Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List Features Seven MW Student-Athletes

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Seven Mountain West student-athletes were named to the Doak Walker Award preseason watch list on Thursday.

Air Force’s Jacobi Owens, Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols, Hawai‘i’s Paul Harris, Nevada’s James Butler, San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey, Utah State’s Devante Mays and Wyoming’s Brian Hill represent the Conference on the watch list.

Owens, from Las Vegas, Nevada, led the Falcons in rushing last season with 1,096 yards on 205 carries for an average of 78.0 yards per game. McNichols started 12 games and led the Mountain West in scoring (156 points), touchdowns (26) and rushing touchdowns (20), ranking tied for second in the nation in the first two categories and tied for sixth in the latter. McNichols rushed for 1,337 yards (fourth in the Mountain West) and led all conference backs with 51 receptions (ninth overall in the conference). Harris rushed for a season-high 1,132 yards in 2015, becoming UH's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2010 and only the second since 1992. Butler enters his junior season with excitement after rushing for 1,977 yards and 15 touchdowns as an underclassmen. Pumphrey is the nation’s active leader in career rushing yards (4,272), rushing touchdowns (45), all-purpose yards (5,145) and 100-yard rushing games (22), and needs just 318 rushing yards to break NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk’s school record for career rushing yards. Mays played in all 13 games and made six starts in his first season at Utah State in 2015 and finished the year with 165 carries for 966 yards (5.9 ypr) with nine touchdowns to lead the team in each category. Hill concluded the 2015 season ranked No. 8 in the nation in average rushing yards per game (135.9), No. 9 in total rushing yards (1,631) and No. 13 in average all-purpose yards per game (146.9).  He set a new University of Wyoming single-season rushing record, with his 1,631 yards.

Ten semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 16.  From that list of semifinalists three finalists will be named on Nov. 22.  The Doak Walker Award will select its 27th recipient this season.  The recipient of the 2016 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 8, on ESPN. The Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet will be held in Dallas in early 2017.

The National Selection Committee consists of past recipients, former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives.