The finalists for the 2023 Doak Walker Award were announced on November 28, ahead of the winner being announced in December.
The award is given to the most outstanding running back in college football, and in 2023, the finalists include a former walk-on, a potential Heisman candidate, and a four-time ACC Running Back of the Week.
Who Are the Doak Walker Award Finalists
Three outstanding players have been selected as finalists for the 2023 Doak Walker Award, all earning honors throughout the season.
Ollie Gordon II – Oklahoma State
Ollie Gordon II has been nothing short of a sensation in 2023, leading the nation in almost every rushing category. Gordon has been one of the nation’s most outstanding college football players and is fifth in Heisman Trophy odds.
The Oklahoma State offense has run through Gordon as they look to secure the Big 12 Championship against Texas.
In three weeks (against Kansas, West Virginia, and Cincinnati), Gordon put up over 250 scrimmage yards in consecutive games. That outstanding run makes him the only player in the FBS in the last ten years to do so.
Gordon has won Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week four times in 2023. Not only is he a Doak Walker Award Finalist, but he is also nominated for the Maxwell Award, given to the Collegiate Player of the Year. If he was to win, Gordon would become the first Cowboy to win the award.
Omarion Hampton – North Carolina
Omarion Hampton has been one of the most productive running backs in college football in the 2023 season, ranking fourth in the nation with 1,442 rushing yards. His production has meant he led the ACC in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns.
Hampton is tied for the eighth most rushing touchdowns in college football with 15 and has also put up seven 100-yard games. With four ACC Running Back of the Week awards in 2023 to his name, Hampton has earned his name on the shortlist.
Cody Schrader – Missouri
Cody Schrader is a former walk-on at Mizzou after transferring from Truman State in Division II, and has had an unbelievable season.
Schrader has been a feature part of the Tigers’ offense, ranking second in the nation for the most rushing yards with 1,489. He also has 13 touchdowns. Schrader has rushed for over 100 yards seven times in 2023 including for a season-high 217 yards against Arkansas.
The Tiger running back is also nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding college football walk-on player.
When Is the Winner Announced?
The winner will be announced during The Home Depot College Football Awards live on ESPN on December 8. The formal presentation of the award will be on Feb. 16, 2024, when there will be a banquet held on the campus of SMU, as is tradition.
The final three have been selected from ten semi-finalists, which included Jonathon Brooks (Texas), Tajh Brooks (Texas Tech), Marcus Carroll (Georgia State), Blake Corum (Michigan), R.J. Harvey (UCF), Damien Martinez (Oregon State), and Kimani Vidal (Troy).
What Is the Doak Walker Award?
The Doak Walker Award is awarded to the top running back in college football. SMU shares that the award “recognizes a football player’s outstanding performance on the field, as well as his achievements in the community and in the classroom.” The award has been presented to the most outstanding running back since 1990.
The award is named after Doak Walker who played for SMU between 1945 and 1949 before also playing in the NFL for the Detroit Lions. Walker won the Heisman Trophy in 1948 and was also a three-time All-American for the Mustangs.
The award is a bronze sculpture of Doak Walker and was created by Blair Buswell.
In 2022 the Award was won by Texas’ Bijan Robinson, who was selected ahead of Chase Brown (Illinois), and Blake Corum (Michigan). Other previous Doak Walker Award winners include Najee Harris, Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Reggie Bush.