Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA college football

Arizona Wildcats running back J.J. Taylor (21) breaks free for a run during the first quarter of the University of Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins college football game at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona Wildcats sophomore J.J. Taylor was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list on Wednesday, an accolade given to college football's top running back.

Taylor becomes the second Wildcat to be placed on a national award watch list. Quarterback Khalil Tate is on the Maxwell Award (top player)  and the Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback) watch lists. 

Last season, Taylor played his first complete season at UA after going down with a knee injury his first year. As a redshirt freshman, Taylor appeared in all 13 games as Nick Wilson's backup and rushed for 847 yards in 146 attempts and averaged 5.8 yards per carry.

Taylor's best game was against Washington State at home where he rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Taylor was later named the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. Now Taylor is projected to be penciled in as the starting running back with Nathan Tilford and Gary Brightwell rotated in.

The last Wildcat that was in the Doak Walker Award race was Nick Wilson, but the closest one to win the award was Ka'Deem Carey in 2013, but he lost in the final round to Boston College's Andre Williams. Taylor will compete against last year's winner, Stanford's Bryce Love, who will return for his senior season. 

Other Pac-12 running backs on the Doak Walker Award watch list:

  • Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
  • Stephen Carr, USC
  • Myles Gaskin, Washington
  • Zack Moss, Utah
  • Tony Brooks-James, Oregon
  • Patrick Laird, Cal

Award-winning sports journalist, University of Arizona graduate and Tucson native. 

Sports producer

Justin Spears is an award-winning sports journalist and Tucson native. He can be reached at jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter @justinesports.