Update 7/18/2018: This article has been updated to include quotes from Cal running back Patrick Laird.
This week keeps getting better and better for Cal redshirt senior running back Patrick Laird, as today he was one of 62 athletes named as a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award. Since 1989, the award has been bestowed annually upon the best running back in college football for “his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community.”
“All these people have been saying congratulations, but in my mind… it’s not really an accomplishment in itself,” Laird said.
Laird won the starting running back job early in the 2017 season, and he went on to gain a team-high 1,449 all-purpose yards. Earlier this week, he was named to the Maxwell Award watchlist, which is awarded to the nation’s college player of the year.
“At the end of the day… I’m just excited to just play football this year, try to win some more games with my team,” Laird said.
Off the field, Laird started his own summer reading challenge this summer to combat summer learning loss among young students; as of July 18, nearly 3,500 students signed up for his challenge.
“It’s been really fun for me just to go around and speak to all these kids,” Laird said. “The important thing for me has been sharing my passion of reading.”
This marks the second year in a row that a Bears back was named to the Doak Walker preseason watch list, as former Cal running back Tre Watson received the same preseason nomination in the 2017 season. Additionally, eight Pac-12 players are listed as candidates in 2018, including Stanford’s Bryce Love who received the Doak Walker Award last year.
Come November, the candidates will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists, followed by the announcement of the top three finalists on November 20. The winner of the award will then be announced on December 6 at the College Football Awards show.
Contact John Kalil at [email protected].