By: Brian Johannes
For what has been called a quarterback award lately, we’ve gone old school with running backs stealing the show. Whether it was Leonard Fournette running wild most of the year, to Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey being nominated, heck even Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliot laid some claim. Any way you slice it, the running backs have been the story. But will that story be capped off with Henry or McCaffrey winning the award? Or can Deshaun Watson ruin the party? Here is how we think the Heisman voting will end up.
1. Derrick Henry - RB Alabama; 339 carries for 1,986 yards rushing and 23 TDs (12-1 record)
My projection to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy is Derrick Henry. Henry led the nation in rushing yards and did it with defenses knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt he was going to get the ball. If you think that Alabama would be in the college football playoff without Henry; you're crazy. Henry has been a Mack Truck this year barreling through defenders and getting the tough yards. He took control of this race versus Leonard Fournette in the LSU game, but has been a force all year long. While QB Jacob Coker struggled through most of the year, Henry carried the offense to the tune of 5.9 yards per carry, shaking off tacklers in the backfield and carrying the ball a combined 90 times in 'Bama's final two games.
2. Christian McCaffrey - RB Stanford; 319 Carries for 1,847 yards rushing; 8 TDs. 540 Yards receiving; 4 TDs. One kick return TD. (11-2 record)
When you break any record held by Barry Sanders, you know you've done something special. While critics will point to McCaffrey playing two extra games, his touches where very close to Barry’s. To say McCaffrey was Stanford’s entire offense was not an understatement. Sure Kevin Hogan is a quality college quarterback, but it was McCaffrey that got the Cardinal going. His top end speed allowed him to take advantage of the holes created by the offensive line. He showed soft hands out of the backfield and ability to make guys miss after the catch, and even was dynamite return man. It wouldn’t shock me to see him win it, but Henry did it on the bigger stage while more Heisman voters were awake.
Some will say that Watson is only here because he’s the quarterback on the best team, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. While Watson didn’t lead the nation in any passing category, his ability to spread the ball out efficiently and make plays with his legs carried the Tigers against their best competition, and was the reason they are undefeated. Watson never had a let down game and helped bury the term 'Clemsoning.' And let’s not forget that he was doing this without his best receiver, Mike Williams, who was hurt the entire season. While he likely doesn’t win, Watson had a tremendous season and has Clemson on the doorstep of a National Title. With him being only a sophomore, Watson could be the favorite next season.
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