Of the thousands of plays during the 2017 college football season, the one that has stuck in my mind has been the following:
Gerrid Doaks will be the best UC RB since Pead pic.twitter.com/S0ndpOEPzW— #CinCityPride (@TheCinCity) September 23, 2017
It may have ended up coming in vain, as the Cincinnati Bearcats lost this game to Navy, but this touchdown run from Gerrid Doaks was a piece of tangible evidence that the future was bright. Doaks does so much on the play. He sheds a tackler who attempts to trip him up, explodes to the outside, stiff arms another tackler back to the 18th century and uses every ounce of effort he has to stretch across the goal line for a touchdown. If that clip doesn’t make you want to jump up and punch a hole through the wall, then I don’t know what to tell you.
That highlight was one of many from Doaks during his freshman campaign. The three-star recruit from Indiana amassed 513 yards and two touchdowns across nine games and 87 carries, as he powered past incumbent starter Mike Boone to become the leading rusher for the Bearcats, at least in terms of yardage. His ability to run past and over opponents, while showing that downhill power you want from a lead back, elevated his status on the depth chart as much as his results on the field. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and even made sure to provide a viable option in the passing game. He had 14 receptions for 135 yards and an additional score. That equates to 648 all-purpose yards, which is a nice foundation for a true freshman to build on.
While Doaks’ best single play from last year can be debated for years, there’s no doubt which was his best individual game. On Nov. 4 against Tulane, the Bearcats really needed somebody to step up offensively and Doaks did. He rushed for what is currently a career-high 149 yards on 17 carries and even found a way to add in 23 yards through the air. In a game that came down to a missed field to decide the outcome, UC needed every single inch of yardage and Doaks provided quite a few of those inches.
Doaks certainly had other strong games as well. He had 91 yards on nine carries against SMU and rushed for at least 50 yards in three-straight games at the end of September.
You could argue that Doaks was the No. 1 running back on the roster last year. Now that Boone is gone, you don’t have to argue at all. That’s just a fact. What that means is the Bearcats are going to get more plays like the one above and, as Gandalf would say, that is an encouraging thought.