2011 Doak Walker Award Finalists: LaMichael James, Trent Richardson And Montee Ball

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 12: LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks runs the ball against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Behold, the nation's best running backs, according to the fine folks who put together the 2011 Doak Walker Award finalists list.

Oregon's LaMichael James, Alabama's Trent Richardson and Wisconsin's Montee Ball have been named the three finalists for the 2011 Doak Walker Award, giving annually to college football's best running back.

Jameshas powered the Oregon Ducks with 1,285 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also has 180 yards and a touchdown receiving.

Richardson had led the Alabama Crimson Tide with 1,380 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground as well as 322 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air.

Ball is the latest in a long line of solid Wisconsin Badgers' backs. He's garnered 1,466 yards and 25 touchdowns so far on the season. He's also caught 16 passes for 233 yards and five TDs.

James took home the award last year, as part of a high-octane Oregon Ducks offense. Of the last 15 winners of the award, only three have gone on to win the Heisman Trophy as the best player in the nation: Reggie Bush in 2005, Ron Dayne in 1999 and Ricky Williams in 1998.

The award itself is named after former SMU running back, defensive back and place kicker Ewell Doak Walker. He would win the Heisman in 1948 while leading the Mustangs to an 8-1-1 record, eventually going on to a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Lions. 

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