DALLAS, Texas - The SMU Athletic Forum announced today the names of the candidates for the 2004 Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the nation's top college running back, and Arizona's Mike Bell was among the 42 players on the list.
The leading returning rusher in the Pac-10 Conference this season, Bell will be the primary ball carrier for the Wildcats after amassing 920 yards on just 168 attempts as a sophomore in 2003. He scored six touchdowns last year, including four that went for 37 or more yards.
The field of candidates also includes Kansas State senior Darren Sproles who was a finalist for the 2003 Doak Walker Award and led the nation in total rushing yards (1,915) last season. Other candidates include Texas senior Cedric Benson who led the nation in scoring last year with 134 points and has 3,706 career rushing yards, the most of any returning back; Syracuse senior Walter Reyes who has gained more than 1,100 yards in each of the past two seasons; and Memphis Junior DeAngelo Williams who led the country in all-purpose yardage and compiled ten consecutive 100-yard rushing games in 2003.
Other candidates from the Pac-10 are California's senior J.J. Arrington and USC's sophomore rushing duo of Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
The complete list of candidates follows:
Josh Allen (Jr.), Maryland
J.J. Arrington (Sr.), California
Marion Barber (Sr.), Minnesota
Chris Barclay (Jr.), Wake Forest
Arliss Beach (Jr.), Kentucky
Mike Bell (Jr.), Arizona
Cedric Benson (Sr.), Texas
Ronnie Brown (Sr.), Auburn
Reggie Bush (So.), USC
Earl Charles (Sr.), Marshall
Patrick Cobbs (Sr.), North Texas
P.J. Daniels (Jr.), Georgia Tech
Anthony Davis (Sr.), Wisconsin
Kyle Eckel (Sr.), Navy
Anthony Evans (Sr.), Houston
Lionel Gates (Sr.), Louisville
Franklin Gore (Sr.), Miami
E.B. Halsey (So.), Illinois
Lynell Hamilton (So.), San Diego State
Alex Haynes (Sr.), UCF
Taurean Henderson (Jr.), Texas Tech
Lonta Hobbs (Jr.), TCU
Cedric Houston (Sr.), Tennessee
Howard Jackson (Sr.), UTEP
Chance Kretschmer (Sr.), Nevada
Brian Leonard (Jr.), Rutgers
Wali Lundy (Jr.), Virginia
Sammy Maldonado (Sr.), Maryland
Ronnie McGill (So.), UNC
T.A. McLendon (Jr.), NC State
Ryan Moats (Jr.), Louisiana Tech
Foy Munlin (Sr.), SMU
P.J. Pope (Jr.), Bowling Green
Bobby Purify (Sr.), Colorado
Walter Reyes (Sr.), Syracuse
Lydell Ross (Sr.), Ohio State
Darren Sproles (Sr.), Kansas State
Justin Vincent (So.), LSU
Jerod Void (Sr.), Purdue
LenDale White (So.), USC
DeAngelo Williams (Jr.), Memphis
Carnell Williams (Sr.), Auburn
"Each new season of college football brings fans a fresh list of new 'stars' to watch. This year will be no different. As for the running back position...well, simply put this will be one of the more talented groups we've had the pleasure of following. This year's Doak Walker watch list is impressive. This year's winner will again exemplify the characteristics of Doak Walker. A tough and talented runner for sure, but just as important as the yards gained on the field, Doak was a model citizen and leader in the classroom, too. Good luck to the candidates," said Craig James, SMU alumnus and member of the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee.
The SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will select the semifinalists on November 15, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will vote on the winner in late November. The National Selection Committee consists of former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives.
The recipient of the 2004 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on ESPN along with other NCFAA member awards on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 9. The Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet will be held at The Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, February 15, 2005.
Former Michigan running back Chris Perry, currently with the Cincinnati Bengals, won the 2003 Doak Walker Award.
The award, which is celebrating its 15th year, is named for SMU's three-time All-American running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification. Sponsors of the Forum include PricewaterhouseCoopers, American Airlines, The Dallas Morning News, Guaranty Bank, JPMorgan Chase and State Farm Bank?®.