3 Bulldogs selected to preseason award watch lists

Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers hurdles a Boise State defender en route to scoring the game winning touchdown defeating Boise State 19-16 on Dec. 1, 2018 in last years Mountain West Championship. (Jose Romo/The Collegian)

Junior running back Ronnie Rivers was named a preseason candidate for the 30th recipient of the 2019 Doak Walker Award, announced Wednesday by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum, which is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.

Following an injury that occurred during the spring prior to the season, which only allowed him to appear in 11 games in 2018, Rivers closed out his sophomore season as the MVP of the Las Vegas Bowl – gaining 286 all-purpose yards in the game, the fourth-most in school history, with 212 coming on the ground, 33 receiving and 41 on punt returns.

Rivers finished the season strong, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 108.4 all-purpose yards per game in his sophomore campaign, ranking as the fourth-most in the Mountain West.

Fresno State adds to its number of selections as both defensive back Juju Hughes and linebacker Mykal Walker are candidates for the 25th annual Chuck Bednarik Award, announced by the Maxwell Football Club on Monday, which recognizes the collegiate defensive player of the year.

Both Hughes and Walker will now be the proven leaders of a revamped Bulldog defense that lost six starters to either the NFL or graduation in 2018.

Hughes, an All-MW second team selection as a junior, will be entering his senior season with the most in-game experience on the team, playing in 40 career games and entering 2019 with a streak of starting in 28 consecutive games. The strong safety finished the last season with an impressive 78 tackles, 12 pass defenses and recording four interception, good for a tie for the of MW lead.

Walker, who will be entering his second season, started every game for the Bulldogs last season, earning the second-most tackles on the team with 87, behind MW Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Allison.

Along with his 87 tackles, Walker led all defensive linemen in MW play in tackles per game, averaging 6.1 per game and had a stellar performance in the MW Championship, producing 12 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery in the win, earning an All-MW first team selection.

The senior linebacker’s name appearing on preseason award watch lists is becoming a habit. In May, Walker was named one of 42 players selected for the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list by the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, which goes to the defensive college football player who has the biggest IMPACT on his team, both on and off the field.

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