Arizona RB Michael Wiley named to Doak Walker award watch list
Arizona running back Michael Wiley will be stepping into a larger role this season, and Wednesday he was recognized as one of the players to watch at his position. The Doak Walker Award is handed out at the end of the season to the top running back in college football, and the UA sophomore was included as part of the preseason watch list for the award.
The Houston, Texas native will move into the top spot on the depth chart for the Wildcats this season after serving as the top backup to Gary Brightwell during the 2020 season. Wiley finished his sophomore year with 255 all-purpose yards that included gaining 222 yards on the ground to go with three touchdowns on 31 carries.
His best performance of the season came against Colorado when he had 122 rushing yards on seven carries to go with five catches for 15 yards. Wiley had a career-best rush of 45 yards in that game.
"There's some things that I did good, but this isn't a time for me to feel satisfied," Wiley said after his big performance against the Buffaloes. "There's a lot of things that I can do better. As a team we could do a lot better. I'm not really taking this as a win for me, but it's opened my eyes.
"Now I'm starting to feel comfortable playing and that's a good thing for me."
The 5-foot-11 back will be part of a strong group of runners for the Wildcats this season the team again has a loaded running back room under first-year head coach Jedd Fisch and first-time running backs coach Scottie Graham.
Wiley will lead that group, and he certainly has made some early strides in his career with his jump in production from his first year to his second. However, the coaching staff is planning to take advantage of the depth it has at the position.
"I got a room full of backs and we believe in competition," Graham said during the spring about his running back unit. "It's gonna be a great competition. I'm looking forward to it."
The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will pick 10 semifinalists during the season before the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee names three finalists for the award in November. The winner will eventually be selected in December.
The Wildcats will face another player on the watch list to open the season as BYU's Tyler Allgeier was named to the group Wednesday. Colorado's Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot, Washington State's Max Borghi, USC's Keaontay Ingram and Vavae Malepeai, Stanford's Austin Jones and Washington's Sean McGew are the other players from the Pac-12 to be represented on the list.
Arizona will see all of them except Jones during the 2021 season.
The Wildcats are set to open up their first training camp under Fisch next month with 13 of the practices open to fans. The season opener is set for Sept. 4 in Las Vegas against BYU at Allegiant Stadium.
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