ATLANTA, Ga. – D'Onta Foreman was honored on Thursday night as the 2016 winner of the Doak Walker Award, given annually to best running back in college football. The award was presented by Calvin Hill (Yale) at the College Football Awards Show inside the College Football Hall of Fame.
Foreman, who led the nation with 2,028 rushing yards despite playing in just 11 games, is the third Longhorn to win the prestigious award which began in 1990. Ricky Williams was a two-time winner, in both 1997 and 1998, while Cedric Benson won the award in 2004.
"This means so much to me and my family, and of course our team," Foreman said. "To have a 2,000-yard rusher and a Doak Walker Award winner, it means a lot to my teammates and offensive linemen who helped me get here. It means a lot to win the same award that Ricky (Williams) and Cedric (Benson) won. To be up there with those guys, to be a part of that running back club, it's something I always dreamed about. To be there with those elite running backs and be able to do that, it means a lot to me and my family. I want to thank God first, and Coach Strong, the whole Texas program and staff, my parents, my family and everyone who supported me."
In 2016, Foreman joined Williams (1998) as the only two players in school history to rush for at least 2,000 yards. He was just the 12th Power 5 running back in NCAA history to rush for 2,000 yards prior to a bowl game, joining the likes of past Doak Walker Award winners: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (2014), Boston College's Andre Williams (2013), Penn State's Larry Johnson (2002), UT's Williams (1998), Texas Tech's Byron Hanspard (1996) and Colorado's Rashaan Salaam (1994). Heisman Trophy winners Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State, 1988), Mike Rozier (Nebraska, 1983) and Marcus Allen (USC, 1981) all accomplished the feat prior to the institution of the Doak Walker Award.
Foreman rushed for at least 124 yards in all 11 games in 2016, finishing 10th in NCAA history with an average of 184.4 yards per game. He has rushed for 100 yards or more in 13 consecutive games, a school record and the longest active streak in the nation. His eleven 100-yard games in 2016 also tied Earl Campbell's (1977) single-season school record.
He rushed for 15 touchdowns and had a streak of seven consecutive games with a rushing touchdown come to an end against Kansas State. It was tied for the 10th-longest streak in school history.
The Texas City, Texas native rushed for 150 yards seven times in 2016, including three games with at least 250 yards, all against Power 5 opponents. No other running back had more than one game of 250 yards of rushing against a Power 5 opponent. All 11 games he played in this season came against Power 5 opponents. He averaged 193.3 yards per game against Big 12 Conference foes, totaling 1,740 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine league games.
Perhaps his best football came in a four-game stretch when he rushed for 1,008 yards on 151 carries in a span of 22 days. The stretch began against Baylor, who entered the game undefeated and ranked inside the top 10. Foreman totaled a career-high 250 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns against the Bears to knock them from the ranks of the unbeaten. The very next week, Foreman rushed 33 times for 341 yards – third-most in school history and the most in the country this season. He became just the third player in school history, and first since Hodges Mitchell in 2000, to rush for at least 200 yards in back-to-back games.
Following a 167-yard performance against West Virginia, Foreman once again hit the 250-yard mark on the road at Kansas. His 250 yards in the game against the Jayhawks came on a school-record 51 carries.
The first Longhorn since Jamaal Charles in 2007 with more than 1,000 yards rushing in a season, Foreman began the season against No. 10 Notre Dame, rushing 24 times for 131 yards and a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. After missing a game against UTEP – the Longhorns' only Group of 5 opponent – Foreman was back on the field against California. Despite splitting carries prior to Chris Warren III's season-ending injury at Oklahoma State, Foreman racked up 157 yards and two touchdowns against the Golden Bears.
As the Longhorns' season moved into conference play, Foreman began with a 148-yard and two touchdown effort, despite missing the last 20 minutes of the game against Oklahoma State due to an injury. The next week, while nursing that injury, the junior nearly led the Longhorns to a victory in the Red River Showdown against Oklahoma. Despite UT coming up short, Foreman had 159 yards and two scores on 25 carries.
Over the final seven games of the season, Foreman would receive 30 carries or more six times, including setting a new career high in four straight games. He totaled 278 rushing attempts in nine Big 12 Conference games. His 1,297 rushing yards during the second half of the season (his final six games) would have led the Big 12 Conference in rushing for the entire season and finished 25th among FBS players.