Wyoming Cowboy RB Xazavian Valladay On Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List

Tracy Ringolsby

Laramie – University of Wyoming junior running back Xazavian Valladay was named to the prestigious Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Wednesday. The Forum annually presents the award to the nation’s top college running back.

Valladay, who will be a junior, is coming off a 2019 season in which he rushed for 1,265 yards to lead the Mountain West. He ranked 18th in the nation in rushing yards per game (105.4). The native of Matteson, Ill., also led the MW in all-purpose yards and ranked No. 26 in the nation, averaging 124.08 yards per game. Valladay was a First Team All-MW honoree as a sophomore as selected by MW head coaches and media.

He rushed for 100 or more yards seven times in the 12 games he played in 2019, and he rushed for over 200 yards twice. His best games were 206 rushing yards against Nevada and 204 against Georgia State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. His five 100-yard rushing games included: 118 against  Missouri, 127 against New Mexico, 124 at Boise State, 114 at Utah State and 154 against Colorado State.

His 204-yard performance in Wyoming’s 38-17 Arizona Bowl victory earned Valladay a spot on the 2019 Associated Press All-Bowl Team. He also caught three passes for 91 yards in the game and scored one touchdown rushing and one receiving while accounting for 295 all-purpose yards. Valladay was one of only three running backs in the nation named to the team, joining Penn State’s Journey Brown and Florida’s Lamical Perine.

2019 Doak Walker Award finalist Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State) and 2018 finalist Travis Etienne (Clemson) lead the list of preseason candidates. Last season as a sophomore, Hubbard led the nation in rushing with 2,094 yards. Etienne returns for his senior season as the two-time ACC Player of the Year and Clemson’s all-time leading rusher. Memphis sophomore Kenneth Gainwell joins Etienne and Hubbard as the only returning semifinalists from 2019.

The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name ten semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award in November. Three finalists, as voted on by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, will be announced later in November. The committee will cast a second vote in December to determine the recipient. The National Selection Committee consists of past recipients, former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives.

The recipient of the 2020 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

The award is named for SMU’s three-time All-America 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.