Seven B1G backs on Doak Walker list

Most folks believe running back is the Big Ten's strongest position entering the 2012 season. It's reflected on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back.

Led by 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball, the Big Ten has seven running backs on the Doak Walker list.

Here's the rundown:

All the usual suspects are there, and the list could be a bit longer. Indiana's Stephen Houston had a solid performance in Big Ten play last fall, and a Purdue back -- Akeem Shavers or Ralph Bolden -- could work his way into contention.

I felt Ball should have won the award last year (it went to Alabama's Trent Richardson), and he's the leading candidate to win this season after returning to Wisconsin. Ball was a finalist in 2011, while Nebraska's Burkhead was a semifinalist last year. Ball, Burkhead, Redd, Bell and Toussaint all are legitimate candidates for the Doak.

Semifinalists are named Nov. 9, and finalists are named Nov. 19. The winner is announced Dec. 6 during the Home Depot College Football Awards. Iowa's Shonn Greene is the last Big Ten back to win the Doak Walker Award (2008).