- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Watch list season is winding to a close. Try not to shed a tear. But one of the last lists to be released is one the Big Ten seems to compete for annually: the Doak Walker Award.
The award goes to the nation's top running back, and in case you haven't noticed, the Big Ten tends to have great running backs. In fact, Wisconsin's Montee Ball won the award last year. Seven league backs have been named to the Doak Walker preseason list. They are:
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Venric Mark, Northwestern
Mark Weisman, Iowa
James White, Wisconsin
Zach Zwinak, Penn State
Abdullah, Mark and Zwinak all ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, while White has a 1,000-yard season under his belt. Hyde put up 970 yards without the benefit of a bowl and was dominant down the stretch, while Weisman finished with 815 yards in just 10 games. Gordon is the least accomplished back but might be the most purely gifted, and he could be ready for a breakout year.
So it's a strong list. The only noticeable absentee is Michigan's Fitz Toussaint, who had a disappointing year in 2012 and who will be challenged by incoming freshman Derrick Green. But if Toussaint regains his form -- or if Green surpasses -- it won't take long for the Doak Walker folks to notice. Minnesota's Donnell Kirkwood is another guy who could make a run at 1,000 yards this season.