Nevada running back Toa Taua was of 76 players named to the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors announced Wednesday. The award is given annually to the nation’s top running back, most recently awarded to Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, a second-round pick (No. 41 overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 NFL Draft.
He is one of seven to earn the distinction from around the Mountain West. The others are George Holani (Boise State), Xazavian Valladay (Wyoming), Charles Williams (UNLV), Ronnie Rivers (Fresno State), Jaylen Warren (Utah State) and Miles Reed (Hawai’i).
This is the second consecutive year that Taua has earned a spot on the Doak Walker Award preseason watch list. Taua earned preseason All-Mountain West Honors from Athlon Sports and Phil Steele. Taua recently placed No. 6 on my Top-10 best returning Nevada players heading into 2020.
Taua, who earned All-Mountain West honorable mention last season, posted a team-high 807 yards on 196 attempts (4.1 yards per carry) with scored six rushing scores. Putting together 62.1 yards per game, Taua cracked triple-digit rushing totals twice — including a season-high 160 rushing yards on a career-high 34 carries with a rushing touchdown against San Jose State. His other 100-yard rushing performance came versus Fresno State — tallying 135 yards on 20 carries and scoring the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left in regulation. He played in all 13 games last season, totaling double-digit carries in all but two contests.
The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name 10 semifinalists in November, and three finalists, as voted on by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, will also be announced in November. The committee will cast a second vote in December to determine the recipient.
Taua joins teammate Dom Peterson, who was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list (given to the nation’s best defensive player) Monday, among Wolf Pack players who are named to the preseason watch list for awards.