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Notre Dame Football: No Irish Running Backs on Doak Walker Award Watch List, But Eight Opponents Named

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Stanford’s Bryce Love leads the list of formidable tailbacks who the Irish will face in 2018.

Notre Dame v Stanford Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back has never won the Doak Walker Award, which is given annually to the best student-athlete at that position. It appears this year will be no exception to that rule.

With lead back Dexter Williams facing a 4-game suspension and two other backs dismissed from the program, the Irish running corps is youthful and inexperienced.

So when the 62-person Doak Walker Award watch list was released Wednesday, it was no surprise to see Williams, Tony Jones Jr., Jafar Armstrong, Jahmir Smith, C’Borious Flemister and Avery Davis omitted.

While the Irish are not expected to yield great production from their backfield, their 2018 opponents have a lot of potential Doak recipients.

That list begins with Stanford Cardinal senior Bryce Love, who won the award last year. He’s on the watch list as is the Michigan WolverinesKaran Higdon, Wake Forest Demon Deacons’ Matt Colburn, Pittsburgh PanthersDarrin Hall and Northwestern Wildcats’ Jeremy Larkin. All are seniors except Larkin.

The Florida State Seminoles — the Irish’s home opponent on Nov. 10 — have two backs on the watchlist: Senior Jacques Patrick and sophomore Cam Akers. (Devin Singletary, a junior at Florida Atlantic, was listed as an FSU player on the watch list.) Stephen Carr, a sophomore tailback for the USC Trojans, also made the list.

Notre Dame had an opportunity this summer to nominate a player for the watch list, but it’s unclear if they did that and the individual was not selected or they declined to do so.

These are the criteria, which I don’t believe any current Irish running back meets:

  • Candidate plays predominantly at the running back position and has made extraordinary contributions to his team.
  • Candidate is enrolled in a degree program, is in good academic standing and is on schedule to graduate.
  • Candidate holds a record of good citizenship within and beyond the athletic sphere.
  • Candidate has demonstrated a record of leadership.
  • Candidate exhibits the characteristics of sportsmanship and fair play associated with Doak Walker.

Notre Dame will get a second opportunity in October to nominate a candidate. Ten semifinalists will be named in mid-November, followed almost immediately by the award’s selection committee picking three finalists. (Irish running back Josh Adams made the top 10 last year, but not the final three).

The award is announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, Dec. 6.