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Pitt running back James Conner named to Doak Walker Award preseason watch list

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Pitt running back James Conner was named to the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, given to a college football player with significant off-field contributions. On Thursday, it was back to recognizing Conner purely for his potential work on the field as he was named to the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award.

The Doak Walker Award is given annually to the top running back in the nation. It's also the third consecutive season that Conner has made the preseason watch list for the honor.

After missing last season with an MCL injury and then a subsequent cancer diagnosis, Conner is poised to return to the field. We don't know quite what the Panthers will get out of him but he's expected to be ready for the start of the season.

One noteworthy omission to me was Qadree Ollison being left off the list. Ollison was the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year last season and topped 1,100 yards with 11 touchdowns. Now, can Ollison win the award? Not likely. But he was 42nd in the nation last year in total rushing yards with many players ahead of him having graduated. The reason why that's significant is because there were nearly 80 players in total on the watch list. How does a guy practically finish that high up in the nation and not get on this list?

Sure, Conner is back and that could mean Ollison's carries are cut significantly. But he still looks to be the No. 2 back on the team and as we saw last year, would only be an injury away from becoming the starter again.

In the end, it's not worth too much fuss for Ollison not being named to the list. As stated, he's not likely to be a finalist. Plus even if he has a big season, he'll gain consideration for it, anyway, so it's pretty inconsequential. But given his big year last season all while splitting carries with several others, it's a bit odd to not see him here.

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