USC football is going to have a great running game this upcoming season. They return four starters from their No. 1-rated Offensive Line in college football from last year (PFF), and poached Oregon RB1 Travis Dye to be the lead dog in this backfield.
Dye, an elite back who led the Pac-12 in scrimmage yards last year (1,673 yards), was of course going to be on the Doak Walker Award Watch List heading into the 2022 season.
According to the Doak Walker Award website; "The prestigious Doak Walker Award was created in 1989 to recognize the nation's premier running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community."
Clearly, Dye belongs on the list. He's averaged six yards per carry in his career, and six last season too. The most interesting part of the Watch List release, though, is that Dye was not the only USC back on the list.
Both Travis Dye and Austin Jones were placed on the Doak Walker Award Watch List.
It's not only USC football's starting running back in Travis Dye who belongs on the Doak Walker Award Watch List, but Austin Jones. Jones is the same back who led the Pac-12 in rushing touchdowns (nine) in 2020. Nine rushing touchdowns in just a six-game season is incredibly impressive. That's a touchdown and a half per game.
To put it in perspective, Dye had 16 rushing touchdowns in all 14 games last year. As great as Dye is, Jones found the end zone at an even higher clip in his 2020 season than Dye did in his 2021 career-season.
Jones has also improved as a receiving threat every season. He went from 14 catches and 108 yards in his first year of college ball, to 21 catches for 156 yards in Year 2, and 32 receptions for 267 yards in his third and most recent season.
Add the type of receiving threat he has become with his 4.2 yards per carry average, and SC has a very strong No. 2 option in the backfield. There were 74 running backs on the watch list, and Jones absolutely should be one of the 74 backs college football fans should be keeping their eyes on this season.
Sure, Dye is the name everyone knows and remembers. He's going to be terrific this season. But if there are backup running backs who could also rise to the occasion, Jones has to undoubtedly be in that conversation.