University of Wyoming junior running back Xazavian Valladay was named to the Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Wednesday. The Forum annually presents the award to the nation’s top college running back. This marks the second straight year that Valladay has been named to the exclusive list.
Valladay is a two-time First Team All-Mountain West running back, earning the honor in 2019 and ‘20. He has led the Mountain West in rushing in each of the past two seasons and has ranked 17th (in 2020) and 18th (in 2019) in the nation in rushing yards per game.
The 2020 season saw Valladay average 110.0 rushing yards per game to rank No. 17 among FBS players. He also averaged 131.0 all-purpose yards to rank No. 27 nationally.
In the 2019 season, Valladay rushed for 1,265 yards to lead the Mountain West. He ranked 18th in the nation in rushing yards per game (105.4). The native of Matteson, Ill., also led the MW in all-purpose yards and ranked No. 26 in the nation, averaging 124.08 yards per game.
Valladay accounted for 163 rushing yards versus Hawai’i and 147 at Colorado State during the 2020 season to bring his career 100-yard rushing game total to 10. In 2019, he rushed for 100 or more yards seven times in the 12 games he played, and he rushed for over 200 yards twice. His best games were 206 rushing yards vs. Nevada and 204 against Georgia State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. His other five 100-yard rushing games included: 118 vs. Missouri, 127 vs. New Mexico, 124 at Boise State, 114 at Utah State and 154 vs. Colorado State. Valladay recorded his first 100-yard rushing game at New Mexico in 2018 when he ran for 192 yards.
His 204-yard performance in Wyoming’s 38-17 Arizona Bowl victory earned Valladay a spot on the 2019 Associated Press All-Bowl Team. He also caught three passes for 91 yards in the bowl game and scored one touchdown rushing and one receiving while accounting for 295 all-purpose yards. Valladay was one of only three running backs in the nation named to the team, joining Penn State’s Journey Brown and Florida’s Lamical Perine.
The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name ten semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award in November. Three finalists, as voted on by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, will be announced later in November. The selection committee will cast a second vote in December 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 recipient of the 2021 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
The award 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.