Penn State's Belton, Zwinak on Doak Walker Award watch list

Penn State running back Bill Belton. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Three seniors with ties to the Philadelphia area - Bill Belton of Penn State, Kenneth Harper of Temple and Raymond Maples of Army - have been named to the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation's top running back, it was announced Thursday.

Belton, who played his high school football at Winslow Township in Camden County, was joined on the watch list by his Nittany Lions teammate, Zach Zwinak. Penn State is one of eight teams to have two running backs on the Walker list.

The Doak Walker Award, which is presented by the SMU Athletic Forum, honors achievement in the classroom and contributions to the community in addition to on-field performance.

The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Belton rushed for a career-high 803 yards last season. He gained 201 yards in a win last November over Illinois, the first Lion to reach the 200-yard plateau since Larry Johnson in 2002.

Harper, a 6-foot, 225-pounder from Gainesville, Fla., scored 11 touchdowns for the Owls last season while picking up 613 yards on the ground.

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Maples, who starred at West Catholic, posted back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2011 and 2012, becoming just the third player in Army history to do that. However, he suffered a groin injury in the third game of last season and didn't play again, but he received a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA.

Zwinak, a 233-pound senior from Frederick, Md., fell just short of racking up his second straight 1,000-yard season with the Nittany Lions, rushing last year for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns.