Walker, Williams named to watch list for top running back

DALLAS — Senior Kody Walker and sophomore Rawleigh Williams III were named preseason candidates for the 2016 Doak Walker Award, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced Thursday.

The Doak Walker Award is presented each season to the nation’s premier running back. Former Razorback Alex Collins was a semifinalist last year.

It marks the fourth straight year Arkansas has had multiple candidates on the preseason list.

Walker, a sixth-year senior, participated in nine contests and started once last season, rushing for 394 yards and six touchdowns on 90 carries. Walker missed four games due to a thumb injury, but returned in a big way in the Razorbacks’ quadruple-overtime win against Auburn.

RELATED:   KNWA VIDEO: Hogs defensive lineman Bijhon Jackson

Four of Walker’s eight carries against Auburn came in overtime with two going for touchdowns and another resulting in a first down. Walker gave Arkansas the eventual final score of 54-46 with a two-point conversion after wide receiver Drew Morgan’s 25-yard touchdown catch.

The Jefferson City, Mo., product went on to rush for 366 yards and five touchdowns during the final seven games of the season.

Despite missing the final five games of the season due to suffering a season-ending neck injury, Williams earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team in 2015.

RELATED:   Reports say Allen out for game against Alabama

He finished the season with 254 yards rushing on 56 carries. His first career touchdown came in his home state of Texas against Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium and he followed with his first career 100-yard rushing game the next week during a win at Tennessee.

Collins, who was selected in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award last year. Collins rushed for 1,577 yards and a program record 20 touchdowns, extending coach Bret Bielema’s streak to 10 straight seasons (every year of his career) with a 1,000-yard running back.

RELATED:   Bielema 'optimistic' Allen will be playing Saturday

Arkansas legend Darren McFadden is one of just two players to win the Doak Walker Award twice. McFadden became the first sophomore to take home the award in 2006 and repeated as the winner in 2007 when he rushed for a program record 1,830 yards.

Arkansas is now represented on 10 different preseason award watch lists.