Despite losing Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale, the Wisconsin Badgers’ backfield could be even stronger in 2017.
That’s because of last year’s emergence of redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw, and the home-run potential of Pittsburgh transfer Chris James. Both Wisconsin running backs were named to the 2017 Doak Walker Award watch list on Thursday. The award is “presented to the nation's premier running back by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum.”
Shaw, now up to 220 pounds according to the fall camp roster UW released on Thursday, ran for 457 yards and five touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry in 2016. The Birmingham, Ala., native stepped up with injuries to redshirt sophomore Taiwan Deal and now enters his third year in the program.
James may be Wisconsin’s most complete back in rushing, receiving, and blocking terms. After sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, he flashed often during Wisconsin’s spring practices. Combined with Shaw, the duo could become a nightmare for opposing defenses to game-plan against.
Sixty-one players in total were named to the Doak Walker watch list.
Media like Wisconsin’s players, chances in Big Ten West
Cleveland.com released its annual Big Ten preseason poll on Friday morning, and its group of experienced media members picked Wisconsin to win the Big Ten West division. UW gained 31 of 38 votes and was selected to win the division, with Northwestern picked second.
In the Big Ten title game, most predicted Ohio State to beat Wisconsin.
In terms of preseason player of the year awards from the website, Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook tied for fifth for Big Ten offensive player of the year. Redshirt senior tight end Troy Fumagalli tied for ninth.
For the Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year, inside linebackers Jack Cichy and T.J. Edwards were voted seventh and ninth, respectively.