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Six Mountain West running backs land on Doak Walker Award watch list

If the Maxwell Award suggested the Year of the Running Back, this only confirms it.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

As we’ve seen in this watch list season already, the Mountain West is overflowing with talented running backs. Many of the same athletes who found their way onto the Maxwell Award list have also been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list, which is presented annually to the nation’s top back.

As expected, San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey headlines this particular crew as the reigning offensive player of the year and, currently, the FBS leader in career rushing yards. Another big year, and another conference title, should put the senior squarely in the conversation for this award.

Every other running back who ran for 1,000 yards in 2015, save for Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols, also made the Walker list: Nevada’s James Butler, Hawaii’s Paul Harris, Wyoming’s Brian Hill and Air Force’s Jacobi Owens. Harris, one of two newcomers who didn’t appear on the Maxwell list, stepped into an unforgiving situation on the big island and thrived as the Warriors’ workhorse, finishing sixth in the MWC with 1,132 rushing yards.

The last entrant is Utah State senior Devante Mays, who ran for just 966 yards in 2015 but earned more carries as the season progressed. Mays ran for over 100 yards in three of his last six games, and will hope to carry that momentum into the fall.

There’s an absurd amount of talent on this particular list. Last year’s winner, Alabama running back Derrick Henry, has moved on to the NFL while the other two finalists, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, return for 2016 as serious contenders.