USC players continue to earn spots on pre-season watch lists, as two Trojan running backs were named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List on Wednesday.
Around 80 of the top running backs in college football were named to the list, with Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai earning recognition from the Trojans.
Two of last year’s Doak Walker Award finalists return and both will be very difficult to beat out this season, as Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard and Clemson’s Travis Etienne are big-time backs. Hubbard rushed for more than 2,000 yards last year while Etienne is a two-time ACC Player of the Year and already ranks as the leading rusher in Clemson history.
Carr and Malepeai have had up and down careers as Trojans, largely due to injury issues.
Carr is heading into his senior season and has never played in more than 10 games in any of his first three years. He’s rushed for 1,153 yards and 10 touchdowns, and caught 47 passes with another score. He averaged 5.5 yards per rush last season, but was limited to just 72 carries.
Carr made a huge impression early in his freshman season back in 2017, when he ran for two touchdowns in the season-opener against Western Michigan, then produced a 100-yard rushing performance against Stanford. Ankle, back and hamstring injuries have limited his effectiveness the past few seasons, but Carr hopes to be fully healthy for this season.
Malepeai missed a big chunk of his true freshman season with a broken shoulder blade, then was held to just eight games last season due to a knee injury. But the redshirt senior is one of the leaders of the tailback room and should be ready to finish his USC career on a positive note.
Despite missing so many games last season, he still led the team in rushing with 503 yards and scored seven total touchdowns. For his career, he’s totaled 1,265 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns to go with 163 receiving yards and one score through the air.
Both seniors will have plenty of incentive to be at the top of their games if college football proceeds as planned this fall, as sophomores Markese Stepp and Kenan Christon proved enough last season to believe they are ready to take another step forward this year.
Previous award watch lists