The longer the 2015 college football season went on, the more the Heisman Trophy contenders separated themselves from the pack. On Monday night, the Heisman Trust whittled down the race to three finalists: Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Stanford tailback Christian McCaffrey.
Here's a look at the three players who will make the trip to New York City for Saturday's ceremony, as announced on ESPN's SportsCenter.
Heisman Trophy Finalists
|2015 Heisman Trophy Finalists|
|Deshaun Watson||QB||Clemson||3,512 Pass Yds., 30 Pass TD, 887 Rush Yds., 11 Rush TD|
|Christian McCaffrey||RB||Stanford||1,847 Rush Yds., 8 Rush TD, 41 Rec., 540 Rec. Yds., 4 Rec. TD, 1,042 KR Yds.|
|Derrick Henry||RB||Alabama||1,986 Rush Yds., 23 TD|
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Heisman voters will sometimes settle on selecting the best player on one of the best teams regardless of the strength of his competition. Henry not only fits that criterion but also the goal outlined on the Heisman website. The Heisman Trust awards "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."
As FoxSports.com's Bruce Feldman noted, the Alabama running back outran nearly half of the teams in the FBS:
He also surpassed Herschel Walker in the SEC record book for most rushing yards in a single season. Walker played only 11 games in 1981, though, compared to 13 for Henry. Still, the fact Henry is in the same conversation as the 1982 Heisman winner speaks to his talent and resume.
In what was effectively a Heisman elimination game, Henry outgained Leonard Fournette by nearly 200 yards in Alabama's 30-16 win over LSU on Nov. 7. Henry ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries, while Fournette finished with 31 yards and a score on 19 carries.
Fournette expressed his feelings about not getting the invite on Twitter in one simple emoji:
"Derrick, he did the same thing he's been doing," Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker said, per Matt Zenitz of AL.com. "For some reason he just doesn't get as much credit as the other guy. The other guy's really good, too. I'm not taking a shot at him at all. He's a great player, but so is this guy, and he deserves every bit of credit that he's going to get."
Henry doesn't have to worry about not receiving the credit he deserves anymore. No player has been more instrumental to the Tide's success in 2015. Expect him to lift the Heisman Trophy in New York City.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
If anyone is going to challenge Henry for Heisman supremacy, Watson is the likeliest candidate.
Not only does the Clemson quarterback have 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air, but he has also run for 887 yards and 11 touchdowns. Watson saved his best football for the second half of the season, averaging 315.2 passing yards and 100.2 rushing yards in the Tigers' final five games.
Clemson did its best to convince Heisman voters, going so far as to create a resume for Watson. Listing opposing defenses as references was a nice touch. Per Clemson Football:
Quarterbacks have hogged the Heisman in recent years. The last five winners were signal-callers, while only Mark Ingram and Reggie Bush—whose Heisman has since been vacated—are the only non-quarterbacks to take home the honor since Ron Dayne in 1999.
If that trend continues this year, Clemson will have its first-ever Heisman Trophy winner.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Rarely do you see a player with McCaffrey's versatility. Not since Bush has somebody impacted a game as consistently as the 19-year-old. Fox Sports' Joel Klatt offered high praise for the Stanford running back:
As Klatt asserted, more talented players than McCaffrey have come through the college ranks, but there's no denying the totality of his contributions. His 3,496 all-purpose yards lead the country by more than 1,000 yards (San Jose State's Tyler Ervin is in second place with 2,410).
With all of that said, McCaffery's Heisman candidacy has two holes.
For one, he plays on the West Coast and isn't a member of the Trojans. Jim Plunkett in 1970 is the last Heisman winner from a California school not named USC. Heisman voters probably haven't seen McCaffrey play anywhere near as much as they've seen Henry and Watson this year.
Further hindering McCaffrey is the fact Stanford missed out on the College Football Playoff. Being on a national title contender isn't a prerequisite for the Heisman, but it can be one of the deciding factors.