Luke Staley Talks Doak Walker Award 10 Years Later

This month marks the 10th Anniversary of former Brigham Young Cougars running back Luke Staley winning the Doak Walker Award. The intent of this award is to recognize the best running back in college football. BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL recently spoke with Staley about his experience in 2001 and what the award means to him 10 years later.

In his first two seasons, Staley hadn’t broken the 500 yard rushing mark. That didn’t stop him from having the goal to win the award. When asked if he ever thought he would win the award, Staley remarked, “Going into the season it was one of my goals. I always thought I had the talent to do it.”

Staley realized that even though he possessed the skill set necessary to win the award, he couldn’t do it alone. Staley continued, “But you depend on ten other guys doing their part as well. It was just a matter of putting the pieces together.”

With less than 1,000 career rushing yards to his credit, Staley wasn’t on the pre-season Doak Walker Award watch list. That changed midway through the season. Staley first learned that he was in contention for the award one day after practice.

“We finished team meetings and Jeff Reynolds (Media Relations) pulled me aside and told me I was on the watch list.” Staley then provided information to the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee about his schooling and community involvement for consideration.

Voting results aren’t made public for the Doak Walker Award like they are the Heisman Trophy. However, with his 1,582 yards rushing, 8.1 yards per carry average, and 24 rushing and 28 total touchdowns, there is little doubt that Staley was the run away winner.

As special as it was to win the award, it couldn’t overcome the effect of injuries to Staley’s football future. A short time later, Staley’s football career was over. That doesn’t mean that the award hasn’t impacted and had meaning in his life these last ten years.

Of the award's impact, Staley explained, “It was great for BYU football. It spoke volumes about how good the offense was at that time. There was no weak spot on the offense. That made what I did easier. It was great to set a goal, figure out how to do it and what you are going to do.” Staley doesn’t feel that the Doak Walker Award changed the course of his life, but he does think it “speaks to setting your mind to something and accomplishing it.”

Staley does get a vote each year to help determine who the next Doak Walker Award winner will be. As a past winner, he has an open invitation to attend the award banquet every year in Dallas, Texas.

Winning a national award, like the Doak Walker, is one of the most difficult requirements for student-athletes at BYU to qualify for their jersey to be retired. If BYU does retire Staley’s number 6 jersey, which honor would mean more to Staley: the Doak Walker or the retired jersey?

“I think the Doak Walker Award means more to the school. Both are great honors and would be great. I don’t necessarily have one [that would mean more]. I am proud of the Doak Walker. I have shown my kids the one on display at BYU. Legacy means the most. It would be just as great of an honor to have my jersey retired and speak to my performance at BYU.”

When Staley finished his career at BYU, he didn’t finish as the career rushing leader, but his 2001 season and, especially, the Doak Walker Award put him in the discussion for best BYU running back of all-time. Where does Staley see himself in that discussion?

“I don’t know. I just went out and did whatever I could do for the team to win.”

However, he feels very strongly that the 2001 BYU offense was the “most complete offense” that BYU has ever had.

Click here for a more detailed look at Staley’s impressive play in 2001 that won the Doak Walker Award.

Click here for more from Staley about BYU football.

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