Joe Hill would not be on the Doak Walker Award watch list if he wasn't talented.
The junior showed this spring that he is capable of being a starter. He's elusive, and he makes catches out of the backfield with soft hands. Some whisper that he's the fastest player on the team.
But when a back who with 50 carries and 293 yards in two years makes a list of the nation's most elite rushers, it's a vote of confidence for a program as much as an individual.
The watch list for college football's best running back was released Thursday morning, and Hill was on it. While it's a reflection of Hill's individual talents, it's also a reflection of Utah State's running back pipeline to the NFL in the last two years. The folks who make the Walker watch list must believe that whoever the Aggies' feature back is, he'll be successful.
Last year, fans wondered how Kerwynn Williams would fill the void left by Robert Turbin and Michael Smith. He just racked up 1,583 yards on the ground and became one of the top running/catching threats in the nation. Now, he's showing his talents in the NFL waters like Turbin and Smith before him.
The legacy is important, but so is the situation Hill inherits.
Probably the biggest factor is having five returning offensive linemen, the team's best blocking tight end and a star quarterback in the fold. Utah State has the set-up that is great for running backs: talented, experienced blockers and a quarterback who draws attention for his legs as well as his arms.
You also can't discount the coaching staff. Matt Wells presided over the offense that had great success with Williams last year, so why couldn't he do the same for Hill? Experience with line coach Mark Weber and new OC Kevin McGiven might also help Hill's case for success this fall.
In the end, Hill will be defined by whether he's able to take advantage of fortunate circumstances. If he can do that - like he did this spring - he might not win the Doak Walker Award, but he might be in the conversation.
And if he is in that conversation, he'll have a lot of people to thank, as well.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon