The 76-player Doak Walker Award watch list was announced yesterday morning by the National College Football Awards Association and included Aggies running back Jaylen Warren. There were six other Mountain West athletes selected, them being Boise State’s George Holani, Wyoming’s Xazavian Valladay, Hawaii’s Miles Reed, UNLV’s Charles Williams, Nevada’s Toa Taua, and finally Fresno State’s Ronnie Rivers.
Warren was second on the depth chart last season, behind starter Gerold Bright who is currently trying to make an NFL roster. The duo were productive in a bit of a disappointing season for USU, who finished 2019 with a 7-6 record despite having first round QB Jordan Love at the helm. Both RBs had 100-plus attempts and were able to average 5.1 yards per carry. It is more impressive that Warren reached that mark as he was the thunder to Bright’s lighting, standing at just 5’8” and nearly 215 pounds.
Jaylen transferred to Utah State after spending two seasons dominating the JUCO landscape at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. He became the Badgers starter as a sophomore in 2018 and he did more than meet expectations. He amassed a nation leading 1,435 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground with the second most attempts (167). His 8.6 yards per carry and 159.4 yards per game were also the highest marks across all JUCOs. Warren’s play garnered him 2018’s NJCAA National Offensive Player of the Year honors as well as being named NJCAA All-American first-team.
He was 247Sports’ fourth highest-rated running back upon entering his name into the transfer portal and earned a plethora of scholarship offers. Jaylen ultimately decided to stay in his home state of Utah and join the Aggies football program. As a true junior in 2019, he carried the ball 112 times, rattling off 569 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also added 15 receptions for 182 yards and another score through the passing game. With his final year of eligibility, Warren looks to shine as the lead back for the Aggies and will likely see a sizeable increase in touches, therefore, production in 2020.
Since its inception in 1989, no Mountain West running back has ever received the Doak Walker Award. In fact, only one Group of Five player has and that individual was Rice’s Trevor Cobb back in 1991, just the second season of the award being handed out. Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin has earned the accolade over the past two years, but with his departing to the NFL, their will be a new owner of the trophy in 2020.
The 10 semifinalists will be announced by The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors in November, and three finalists, as voted on by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, will also be named later in November. The committee will hold another vote in December to determine the recipient. The National Selection Committee consists of past recipients, former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives. The 2020’s award winner will be announced at The Home Depot College Football Awards on December 10th. Until then, expect Warren to do all he can to cement his name in the conversation.