For the best teams in college football, a spot in the College Football Playoff (and an eventual national championship) is the ultimate prize. For the top players in the country, the ones whose dominance on the field puts them in the running for individual glory, the endgame involves a single award with an unmistakable pose: the Heisman Trophy. Plenty of players in college football have proven worthy of consideration for the award.
As we learned in an announcement on ESPN’s SportsCenter courtesy of former Heisman winner Ricky Williams, only three finalists will head to New York for the 2015 presentation. Since we’re sure you pride yourself on being in the know, we’ve decided to break down the candidates for this year’s award, as well as provide our own predictions on the outcome. Without further ado, here’s your Cheat Sheet to the three finalists for the 2015 Heisman Trophy.
1. Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson
Aside from being one of the most dynamic players in college football, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is unfazed by the bright lights of the big stage. On the year, Watson has thrown for 3,517 yards, rushed for another 887, and accounted for 41 total touchdowns. With the sophomore leading the way, the Tigers are 13-0 and will enter the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 team in the country. Anyone who has watched Clemson play this season knows that without No. 4 running the show, the Tigers would not be vying for a national championship.
While there’s no denying that Watson deserves to be among the finalists heading to New York for the Heisman ceremony, we don’t think his body of work is enough to outshine the other two remaining candidates. We’d be surprised if Watson finished better than third place in the final voting.
2. Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford
In his last chance to make an impression on the Heisman voters, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey went above and beyond the call of duty. During the Pac-12 title game, where the Cardinal throttled the USC Trojans 41-22, the sophomore went off for a school-record 461 all-purpose yards and was responsible for three touchdowns. With this eye-popping performance, McCaffrey increased his total yardage on the year to 3,496, breaking Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 3,250 all-purpose yards that he set back in 1988.
Based on his individual excellence, Christian McCaffrey should win this year’s Heisman Trophy. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that his push for college football’s most prized individual award came too late in the season. While we think McCaffrey will finish second in the voting, we would not be shocked, or disappointed, if he managed to come out on top.
3. Derrick Henry, running back, Alabama
The Alabama Crimson Tide are the No. 2-ranked team in the country and head into this year’s College Football Playoff as the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. But let’s be clear, without running back Derrick Henry leading the charge, none of that would be possible. In 2015, the sophomore back has been the ultimate workhorse. Henry leads the country in rushing attempts (339), rushing yards (1,986), and rushing touchdowns (23). As long as he continues to be college football’s version of Beast Mode, the Crimson Tide should roll over the competition.
Derrick Henry has done everything he needs to do to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy. We strongly believe he’ll be the one striking the pose when it’s all said and done.