NORTHEAST KANSAS (KSNT)- Running backs Devin Neal and Deuce Vaughn are receiving national recognition before the 2022 season even begins.

Vaughn, a K-State junior and Neal, a Kansas sophomore, were both named to the Doak Walker Award preseason watch list on Wednesday.

The Doak Walker Award honors the nations top running back in college football each season. Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III won the award in 2021.

Vaughn was a semifinalist for the award last season. K-State is not new to the Doak Walker award, as Darren Sproles was a finalists after his 2013 season.

This is not the first taste of preseason honors for Deuce Vaughn, he was also named to the All-Big 12 preseason team and more recently added to the Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell award recognizes the most outstanding player in college football each season.

Vaughn is coming off an impressive sophomore season in which he was a Consensus All-American and named a first team All-American by the Associated Press. Vaughn rushed for over 1,400 yards and tallied 468 receiving yards in 2021. He rushed for 146 yards and scored four total touchdowns in the Wildcats’ Texas Bowl victory at the end of their 2021 season.

Neal caught the eyes of many with his stellar freshman year performance. He ran for 707 yards and scored 8 touchdowns as a true freshman last year. The Lawrence native shined in games against Big 12 powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma. He ran for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in KU’s near upset of Oklahoma last fall. Against Texas he tallied a career high 143 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns en route to the Jayhawks biggest win of the year.

KU kicks off their season against Tennesee Tech on Friday, September 2. K-State opens their 2022 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 3 against South Dakota. Both teams are at home for their season openers.