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Oregon Ducks Kenjon Barner a Doak Walker semifinalist

Kenjon Barner affirmed his place as a Heisman candidate by rushing for 321 yards in a 62-51 win over the USC Trojans last week. The Oregon Ducks star running back has been named a semifinalist for the 2012 Doak Walker Award, and he could give the Ducks their second Doak winner in school history. Legendary back LaMichael James was the first one to accomplish this feat in 2010.

Barner has rushed for 1,295 yards this season, which is good for tops in the Pac-12 and is third overall in the NCAA. He has averaged a career-high 7.2 yards per carry this season and has already set a career record with 19 rushing touchdowns. In addition to those 19 scores on the ground, Barner has crossed the end zone once on a passing play and has 15 receptions for 184 yards in total.

Easily the best running back in the Pac-12, Barner is second in the conference in yards per carry and in the top ten in the NCAA in this statistic. His 20 total TDs top the nation, and he has the third-most yards from scrimmage in college football. His numbers have been off the charts, and he is the favorite for the Doak Walker in my opinion.

The only running backs who have more rushing yards than Barner this season are Jordan Lynch and Stepfhon Jefferson, and both players are doing it against weaker competition for Northern Illinois and Nevada respectively. Only Lynch averages more yards per carry than Barner, but he has three less rushing touchdowns and is literally a non-factor as a receiver (no catches).

Aside from Lynch and UNC standout Giovani Bernard, the only other running backs who average more than 7.2 yards per carry have not had 100 rushes. One of them is De’Anthony Thomas, who is second on the list with an 8.3 YPC.

Jefferson, UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin, Michigan State’s star back Le’Veon Bell, Venric Mark of Northwestern, the Cowboys Joseph Randle, Bernard, Stepfan Taylor of Stanford, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, and Toledo’s David Fluellen are the other nine finalists for the Doak Walker Award. All ten of these players are juniors and seniors.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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