Oregon Ducks Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner on Doak Walker Watch List


Oregon Ducks running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner made the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back in the country.

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LaMichael James won the award after his tremendous sophomore year in 2010, helping the Ducks to an undefeated regular season and the BCS Title Game. James is so far the only Duck to ever win it.

Freeman drew comparisons to James many times last season. Both were named conference freshman of the year after their rookie campaigns, however Freeman is the only true freshman in Oregon history to break a thousand yards rushing (James redshirted his first year in Eugene). Freeman finished 2014 with 1,365 yards on the ground- a conference true freshman record as well- and 18 touchdowns, which also led the Pac-12. He was already on the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, one of the many “best player in the country” awards. If Freeman’s sophomore year is anything like James’ he’ll be widely recognized as one of the top players in college football.

Tyner was the third leading rusher for Oregon last year (behind Freeman and Marcus Mariota) with 586 yards and five scores. The last two games of Oregon’s season were his best of the year, as he ran for a season-high 124 yards in the Rose Bowl win over Florida State and was the team’s leading rusher in the CFB Title Game against Ohio State.

Oregon Duck fans have anticipated big things for Tyner since he ran for an Oregon high school state record 643 yards and 10 TDs in just one game during his senior season for Aloha. Collegiately he seems to have been at his best late in the season, breaking 100 yards rushing in a single game for the first time in the 2013 Civil War. It will be tough for anybody to take away carries from Freeman, but if anyone can do it Tyner would be the best bet.

The ground game will be key to Oregon’s success no matter who is at quarterback for the Ducks this fall. If Freeman and Tyner are both still in the running when the Doak Walker Award committee announces semifinalists in mid-November, then the season will have turned out just fine.