DURHAM, N.C. – Duke redshirt senior running back Jela Duncan and junior running back Shaun Wilson have been named to the Watch List for the Doak Walker Award, an honor presented annually to the nation’s top running back.
The Doak Walker Award, which will name its 27th recipient in 2016, is named for SMU’s three-time All-America running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification.
Duncan (109 yards) and Wilson (103 yards) teamed with Thomas Sirk (155 yards) to become just the second trio in school history to post 100 or more rushing yards each in a single game as the trio did so against Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, helping the Blue Devils to a 44-41 overtime victory. For his efforts, Wilson was named the bowl game’s co-MVP, along with Sirk.
Duncan enters his final campaign having played in 36 career games and rushed 289 times for 1,575 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 43 passes for 301 yards.
A 5-10, 215-pound product from Charlotte, N.C., Duncan played in 10 games a year ago and was an ESPN All-Bowl Team honoree. For the season, Duncan rushed 67 times for 460 yards and four TDs. He ranked third on the team in both rushing yardage and rushing TDs and sits 425 rushing yards shy of becoming just the sixth player in Duke history to reach the 2,000-yard standard on the ground. He is also aiming to become the third Blue Devil to record three or more rushing touchdowns in four seasons.
Wilson has appeared in 24 games with 162 carries for 1,022 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 37 receptions for 386 yards and two touchdowns.
An explosive option, the 5-9, 180-pound native of Charlotte, N.C., Wilson has three scoring plays of 85 or more yards (89-yard reception vs. N.C. Central, 2015; 85-yard rush vs. Indiana, 2015; 98-yard kickoff return vs. Indiana, 2015) and has four scoring plays from scrimmage of 65 or more yards (69-yard rush vs. Kansas, 2014; 68-yard rush vs. Kansas, 2014; 89-yard reception vs. N.C. Central, 2015; 85-yard rush vs. Indiana, 2015). In 2015, Wilson totaled 84 carries for 424 yards and three TDs as well as 19 catches for 207 yards and one score.
The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name ten semifinalists on November 16, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast votes to determine the three finalists, who will be announced on November 22. The committee will cast a second vote beginning November 28 to determine the recipient. The National Selection Committee consists of past recipients, former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives.
The Blue Devils bring back six returning starters on offense and six on defense from last season’s squad, which qualified for a bowl for an unprecedented fourth straight season. Duke opens the 2016 campaign against N.C. Central on September 3.
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