It is award and bowl season for college football now and that means giving out the prestigious Heisman Trophy. The finalists have already been announced and they are Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Stanford’s Cristian McCaffery, and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. One name missing, at least I believe so, is Keenan Reynolds Navy Quarterback. Reynolds led his team to a 9-2 record this season while putting up 2000 yards of total offense and accounting for 25 touchdowns. Most of the touchdowns came on the ground because Navy runs a triple option offense which means it is a mostly running offense. Reynolds also broke Monte Ball’s career rushing touchdown record in college football, although this award isn’t a career achievement award Reynolds should have at least been invited to the ceremony as a way of saying that he had a good season and great career. But he isn’t so I will analyze the finalists and give my projected winner.
Henry is Alabama’s most recent workhorse at running back for the Tide, he has been the focal point of Bama’s offense and in the process broke the season SEC rushing record previously held by Hershel Walker. Henry is only a Junior but is the oldest finalist for the Heisman this year, which tells us something about how the way college football is changing. The biggest positive for Henry is that he plays for Alabama in the SEC, it is well known that the SEC is highly regarded as a power conference this year is not different. I would argue, and will argue, that the SEC is weak and is basically living off of reputation. That should not shadow what Henry did, he is a great running back although he most likely not be a first round pick only because he is from Alabama (more on that in a future post).
McCaffery is the son of former NFL player Ed McCaffery, but now he is making a name for himself. As only a sophomore McCaffery broke the NCAA record for All-Purpose Yards in a season previously held by Barry Sanders. McCaffery was a electric talent for the Cardinal he literally did it all, he returned punts and kicks, ran the ball, caught the ball and even was 2/2 and 2 touchdowns throwing it. McCaffery is playing in the Pac-12 which isn’t as well regarded as a power conference compared to the other power conferences. Conference and school should not matter to the Heisman but it does. McCaffery did not have a down game all year just like the other finalists so he looks like a good bet to win it.
Watson is the sophomore quarterback at #1 and undefeated Clemson and is the middle of a comeback season after tearing his ACL last year. Watson currently owns the third best completion percentage in the FBS, he has also thrown for 3500 yards which is good for 16th best in the nation. Although Watson has not played a lot of great teams by virtue of being in the ACC when he has played ranked opponents he has stepped his game up. Against Florida State he had almost 300 yards and completed 67 percent of his passes with 1 TD. He also added 107 on the ground because he is a true dual threat quarterback. In the ACC title game against UNC Watson completed only 62 percent of his passes while having 289 yards 3 touchdowns and throwing 1 of his only 11 interceptions. Watson also added 133 and 2 scores on the ground. Watson is showing that he is the class of the younger dual threat quarterbacks.
How the Heisman is decided is by some media and other people voting on it as the season goes along. Some criteria that most people use, these are not official, are performance, what school they are at, how they performed in big games, and how well known they are. Position used to be a major factor where only QB’s mainly win it and RB’s are always invited but that could change this year. Although no wide receivers, defensive players, lineman, or kickers are ever considered.
Watson is eliminated first mainly because of his schedule and not breaking a major record. Watson also was not in the limelight as much as the other ones and never really had a “Heisman” play or game because they won almost every game handily. Watson playing in the ACC does not help his case because he did not have a real test all year until maybe Florida State and definitely UNC.
McCaffery could be argued as the winner because he had almost 200 yards every game for the Cardinal after he became a regular starter. His “Heisman moment” was against UCLA where he carried the team to a win with 243 yards, a Stanford single game record, and 4 touchdowns. A knock on McCaffery is that most of the east coast voters have not seen McCaffery play because he plays in the Pac-12 and their games start later in the day.
Henry is considered the leader of the race because he comes from a big name school and led his team to the playoff. Henry also broke a career record but that should not be considered in this vote, but it will. Everyone considers the SEC the class of college football, even through it is not, but that helps Henrys case. His “Heisman moment” came against Auburn where he was handed the ball 46 times and gained 271 yards and kept the Tigers from scoring and coming back in the game.
In my opinion I would vote for McCaffery because he played better quality competition continually throughout the season at Stanford. Alabama out-of-conference schedule is so weak that I would compare it to Iowa’s regular schedule as well as the SEC being weak this year. Watson also did not face any quality competition all year until he played UNC. Thinking about it from a voters perspective and they have done previously Derrick Henry is the winner. Mainly because Alabama plays in the national spotlight almost every week, because of how highly the SEC is regarded as well as how good of a season he had.