NEW YORK — No one has caught Christian McCaffrey all season. Now, can he dash away with the Heisman Trophy?
The dazzling Stanford gamebreaker joined Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson as finalists for the 2015 award. The announcement came Monday night on ESPN’s SportsCenter via 1998 Heisman winner Ricky Williams.
“Just found out five minutes ago. I’m a little emotional,” said McCaffrey at a press conference, after which he called his mother in Colorado.
McCaffrey and Henry will be trying to break a streak of five straight quarterbacks winning college football’s top honor when the trophy is presented Saturday night in New York. Mark Ingram of Alabama in 2009 was the most recent running back — and only Crimson Tide player — to win the Heisman. Since 2000, 13 of the 15 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks.
Among those missing out on a trip to New York City are Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, LSU running back Leonard Fournette (the early season favorite) and Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
Henry seems to be the front-runner in a Heisman race that tightened over championship weekend. He ran for 189 yards and a touchdown on 44 carries in Alabama’s Southeastern Conference championship victory over Florida on Saturday.
Later that night, McCaffrey had 461 all-purpose yards with touchdowns running, receiving and passing as Stanford beat USC in the Pac-12 title game. Watson had 420 total yards and accounted for five touchdowns in Clemson’s ACC championship game win over North Carolina.
Close Heisman voting has been uncommon in recent years. The past three winners — Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel — won by comfortable margins.
The most recent time there was real suspense at the Heisman presentation was 2009, when Ingram received only 1 percent more of the vote than Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. By percentage, that ranks as the closest Heisman vote in history.