The running back position at USC haven’t received a lot of notoriety with Graham Harrell and the air raid offense dominating the attention. However, the one Trojan running back has caught the attention of award voters.
Trojans redshirt junior running back Vavae Malepeai was named to the Doak Walker award 2019 watch list Wednesday afternoon. The award is given to the most outstanding running back in the nation.
The inclusion of Malepeai on the list could come as a surprise to some, however last year he was one of the most consistent players on the Trojans roster. As a redshirt sophomore, Malepeai rushed for 501 yards and 8 touchdowns on 93 carries. He also averaged 5.4 yards per carry and had 15 receptions for 88 yards. While numbers won’t do it’s justice due to the USC offense having a down year offensively last season, Malepeai brought a physical hard nosed running style that helped USC in goal line or tough yardage situations. With Aca’Cedric Ware graduating, Malepeai could be the starting running back for the Trojans this season.
It will be interesting to see how Graham Harrell utilizes the run game and Vavae Malepeai. It’s possible that his carries could take a hit with the air raid scheme coming to USC. Also with a healthy Stephen Carr and redshirt Freshman Markese Stepp coming into the fold, look for different rotations to utilize their abilities.
Since it’s existence in 1990 only one Trojan has won the Doak Walker award. Reggie Bush took home the honor back in 2005 in a season where he also won the Heisman Trophy before it was vacated due to NCAA violations that involved Bush.