DALLAS, TX. - Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be competing for much more than just the Egg Bowl this season. Bulldog senior running back, Kylin Hill, and the Rebel’s star freshman, Jerrion Ealy, have been named as preseason candidates for the 2020 Doak Walker Award Watch List. The annual award is given to the nation’s top college running back.
Behind an SEC-best eight 100-yard rushing games, Hill led the league in rushing yards during the 2019 regular season and finished the year with 1,350. He found the end zone on the ground 10 times and finished as one of just eight Power 5 running backs with 1,300-plus rushing yards and 10-plus rushing touchdowns.
The Columbus, Mississippi, product finished the season with 1,530 yards from scrimmage and had the longest reception of the season by an SEC player (88-yard TD against Abilene Christian).
Hill was named First Team All-SEC by The Associated Press. Hill also earned a spot on the Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll and became the SEC running back to earn both honors in the same season since 2016. He also won the Conerly Trophy last December for the best football student-athlete in the state of Mississippi. It was the second-straight year and fifth time in the last seven years that a Bulldog took home the Conerly Trophy.
In his first season on campus, Ealy made an immediate impact for the Rebels. The Walnut Grove, Mississippi, native earned Freshman All-America accolades from several media outlets (247 Sports, Athlon, Pro Football Focus), while also collecting All-SEC and Freshman All-SEC honors. Ealy finished second on the Rebels with 722 rushing yards on 104 attempts for a team-best 6.9 yards per carry. He also found the end zone six times on the ground, the second-most rushing touchdowns by an freshman in school history. Coming out of the backfield, Ealy caught 20 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown.
Ealy showcased his versatility and knack for making big plays in 2019. Along with racking up three rushes for 50+ yards, the freshman was dangerous as a kickoff returner. Against Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 14, 2019), Ealy tallied 273 all-purpose yards with the help of his 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The all-purpose yards set an Ole Miss freshman record and was fourth-most by any Rebel. Adding a touchdown on the ground, he became the first Rebel to record a kickoff return and rushing TD in the same game since 1999.
The award, which will name its 31st recipient in 2020, is named for SMU’s three-time All-America running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification.