Here are your three finalists for the 2010 Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back:
- John Clay, Wisconsin: 172 carries, 929 yards, 13 TDs
- Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State: 248 carries, 1461 yards, 16 TDs
- LaMichael James, Oregon: 225 carries, 1422 yards, 17 TDs
This process seems to be little more than a formality, as James is currently the nation's top yards-per-game rusher leading the nation's top-scoring offense on the nation's top-ranked team. If he doesn't win this award, there should be an immediate federal investigation. I am only mostly kidding.
The big question, of course, is what in the world is Clay doing on this list? Yes, he has missed two games, so his overall totals are going to be a bit underwhelming. But even taking that into account, Clay is only 19th in the nation (17th among running backs) in rushing yards per game; he's outperformed by Marcus Lattimore, Mikel LeShoure, and many other tailbacks. Clay's barely even the most productive running back on his own team; freshman teammate James White has 34 fewer yards on 44 fewer carries, and just as many rushing touchdowns. And teammate Montee Ball is currently outperforming both of them; in the three November games played thus far, Ball has rushed for 467 yards and nine scores.
Yes, Wisconsin's rushing game is a thing of terrible beauty at times, and it warrants praise and recognition, but this isn't a team award. And even if it's a deadbolt lock that LaMichael James takes this trophy home in December, it still would have been nice of the committee to offer up three actually worthy candidates.