NFL

Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey Was Born to Play in the NFL

As fantasy football players know, Christian McCaffrey is one of the best — and most exciting — players in the NFL. The former Stanford running back is a dual-threat who is a big part of the Panthers’ receiving game, in addition to his duties in the run game.

The foundation for his NFL career was laid at a young age because he comes from a long line of athletes, and McCaffrey was seemingly born to play in the NFL.

Christian McCaffrey’s high school career

McCaffrey was born in Colorado in 1996 and played football at Valor Christian High School; he also played basketball and was a track-and-field athlete. He was a jack of all trades in high school, playing running back, wide receiver, cornerback, and punter.

McCaffrey broke several Colorado high school football records, including career touchdowns, all-purpose yards, and touchdown receptions, in addition to all-purpose yards for a single season. He was named Colorado’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year twice, in 2012 and 2013.

Stanford comes calling

From there, McCaffrey went on to play football at Stanford, where he played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2014. But it was his sophomore season when McCaffrey had his breakout year.

He totaled 3,864 all-purpose yards, breaking Barry Sanders’ NCAA record by more than 600 yards. He also became the first player in Stanford history to have more than 2,000 rushing yards, netting 2,019 on the season. McCaffrey also set school records for rushing yards in a game and all-purpose yards in a game, en route to being named Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, and he finished as the runner-up to Derrick Henry in Heisman voting.

After a junior season in which he scored 16 touchdowns, McCaffrey announced he would forego his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL draft, when the Panthers selected him with the eighth overall pick.

Christian McCaffrey turns pro

McCaffrey played in all 16 games his rookie season, starting 10 of them, and finished the year with more than 1,000 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns.

The following season, McCaffrey ran for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns on 219 carries, adding an additional 867 yards and six scores on 107 receptions, which was the most in the league among non-wide receivers.

He is off to another impressive season this year. In his first six games, McCaffrey has already scored seven rushing touchdowns — matching last year’s total. He has 618 rushing yards on 127 carries, and he has caught 35 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. With nine touchdowns already, McCaffrey is one pace to shatter his career-high of 13 total touchdowns.

Born to play football

McCaffrey has a long lineage of athletes in his family, most famously his father Ed, who played wide receiver at Stanford, then had a 13-year NFL career from 1991-2003. McCaffrey’s mother, Lisa Sime, was also a student-athlete at Stanford; she was on the Cardinal soccer team.

Older brother Max played football at Duke University, and younger brother Dylan is also keeping the McCaffrey family’s football tradition alive; after being one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country, he’s now a junior at Michigan, where he serves as the Wolverines’ backup quarterback.

McCaffrey also has athletes outside of his immediate family, including his uncle, Billy, who played college basketball at Duke and Vanderbilt. McCaffrey’s maternal grandfather Dave Sime was a sprinter, who won a silver medal in the 100-meter race at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome; Sime also during his career held world records in 100 yards, 220 yards, and the 220-yard low hurdles.