Texas RB D'Onta Foreman wins the Doak Walker Award

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D’Onta Foreman didn’t get the Heisman Trophy, or even an invitation to New York for the ceremony.

Nevertheless, Foreman is walking away from a record-setting 2016 season with an award that validates his stature as one of the nation’s best collegiate players.

The nation’s leading rusher with 2,028 yards on the season, Foreman won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back on Thursday night.

The award was presented to Foreman by Calvin Hill during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN. Foreman edged Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey for the award.

Foreman becomes just the third Longhorn to win the Doak Walker Award. He joins two-time winner Ricky Williams (1997, 1998) and 2004 winner Cedric Benson as Texas runners who’ve been declared as the nation’s best for their given seasons.

"This means so much to me and my family, and of course our team,” Foreman said in a statement. "To have a 2,000-yard rusher and a Doak Walker Award winner, it means a lot to my teammates and offensive linemen who helped me get here. It means a lot to win the same award that Ricky (Williams) and Cedric (Benson) won. To be up there with those guys, to be a part of that running back club, it’s something I always dreamed about."

The 6-foot-1, 249-pound Texas City product has already announced his intention to forgo his senior season on the Forty Acres in order to make himself available for the 2017 NFL Draft. Foreman is leaving for the next level having left a major impression following one of the greatest seasons ever for a Texas running back.

Stathead: Breaking down Foreman's historic 2016 season

Foreman broke a drought of 1,000-yard seasons at Texas that dated back to Jamaal Charles' final campaign in 2007. Foreman crossed the threshold with authority,  joining Williams as the only Longhorns to ever rush for 2,000 or more yards in a single season (his 2016 total broke Williams' 1997 total of 1,983 yards in setting a new record for rushing yards by a Longhorn junior).

Foreman became the 12th Power Five back in NCAA history to break the 2,000-yard barrier before a bowl game, joining the likes of Williams, Melvin Gordon, the late Rashaan Salaam, Barry Sanders and Marcus Allen. All of Foreman's yards came against Power Five opponents (he sat out the second game of the season against UTEP) and he averaged 193.3 yards per game in nine Big 12 games.

In addition to racking up yards by the boatload, including a 184.6 yards per game average that stands as the 10th-best season total in NCAA history, Foreman set the Texas record for consecutive 100-yard games with 13. He never rushed for fewer than 124 yards in any of the 11 games in which played as a junior, a season where he rushed for 15 touchdowns and went over the 250-yard mark in three games.

Foreman established a career-high 341 yards against Texas Tech, a performance that came just nine yards shy of tying Williams’ single-game school record of 350 yards set in 1998. That performance came after a 250-yard effort against Baylor, which made him only the third Texas back ever to rush for 200 or more yards in consecutive games.

247Sports: How Foreman went from unwanted to unstoppable

More than the numbers or the awards, Foreman proved to be the identity of a Texas offense that was much improved from what it produced over Foreman's first two years in the program. The veer-and-shoot offense, which leans on the inside power run game to move the football, proved to be a great fit for Foreman as he toted the rock 323 times on the season, including a school record 51 carries against Kansas, and put the Longhorns on his back.

As he leaves Texas for the NFL, Foreman has all of the validation he needs to prove that he's grown and developed to be much more than the unwanted three-star recruit who few schools coveted. This week's he's been named a first-team All-Big 12 selection (Coaches, AP), a first-team All-American by The Sporting News and USA Today and a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

He's now one of the absolute best players in college football, and he's got the hardware to prove in case there's anyone left who still doubts him.

"To be there with those elite running backs and be able to do that, it means a lot to me and my family," Foreman said. "I want to thank God first, and Coach (Charlie) Strong, the whole Texas program and staff, my parents, my family and everyone who supported me."

(Photo: Brendan Maloney, USA TODAY Sports)

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