UPDATE: According to the official Doak Walker website, Hawaii's Joey Ioesefa was also named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List. Here's the full list.
Heisman Trophy winners, NFL first round draft pick, Pro Bowler, and future Hall of Famers.
That's just an example of what you would see on the resume of some former Doak Walker award winners, such as Eddie George (1995), Ricky Williams (1997-98), and LaDainian Tomlinson (2000). On Thursday morning, 53 running backs were named to the Walker award watch list, three of those were from the Mountain West: Boise State's Jay Ajayi, Utah State's Joe Hill, and San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey.
After a solid first year in Boise, Ajayi had a career year with 1,462 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2013. He rushed for 90-plus yards on nine different occasions last season, 100-plus yards in of those games. In week eight against Nevada, he would jump into the national spotlight with a 222-yard and 3 touchdown performance, averaging 9.3 yards a carry to lead the Broncos to a 34-17 win over the Wolfpack. Now in his third and possibly final year at BSU, Ajayi could stake his claim as not only the best RB in the conference, but the best player in the MWC overall. Also, pickle juice is reserved for the best players, so drink up Jay!
Utah State's Joe Hill looked like he would pace the Aggies rush attack for a 1,000 yard season last year, rushing for 250-plus yards the first five games before going down with a season-ending knee injury. Now back in Logan for his final year at USU, and hopefully back at 100%, Hill could make the Aggies offense one of the most dangerous in the MWC.
Although he was behind former Aztec Adam Muema on the depth chart, San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey made a significant impact of the Aztec's rushing attack. He racked up 752 yards and eight touchdowns last season, including a three game stretch where he ran for 100-plus yards three games in a row, the first SDSU freshman to accomplish that since Marshall Faulk in 1991. Muema is gone, and Pumphrey could be a dark horse to lead the MWC in rushing and maybe as a Doak Walker candidate.
These three tailbacks are some of the best the Mountain West has to offer, and one big breakout season could make them the top running back in the country.