Remember when the Heisman Trophy was LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s to lose? Today he finds himself left out of the field that was whittled down to three Monday and many fans/analysts think they know the winner already. But do they and should they? Here’s how a true Heisman ballot should read:
*Honorable Mention: Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds
He was never going to get the Heisman media blitz, but Reynolds’ actions on the field merit at least a seat of his own in the ceremony. It’d be a Planes, Trains and Automobiles-style hustle to New York City following the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia though.
Reynolds busted the career record for rushing touchdowns set by former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball with 78. The Midshipmen's quarterback has 83 with two games left to play. While it’s difficult to say he deserves to take the bronze statue home, he does merit being honored and getting some free shrimp.
3. Alabama running back Derrick Henry
I don’t doubt that this placement will shock/upset a lot of fans, but Henry’s spot should surprise you as much as his team’s ranking.
Another man-beast produced by the Nick Saban machine, Henry eclipsed Herschel Walker’s SEC single-season rushing record during the conference's championship game. Now, if Henry was the guy who’d knocked people around like a wrecking ball to the tune of one-upping Ball for his record along with Walker’s, he’d be a lock.
In the grand scheme of things, while he is an excellent running back, Henry is “just” another great Crimson Tide running back. He’s one of the nation’s best players. Is he a proper Heisman Trophy winner? Cry out “PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWLLL” all you want, but the answer is “no.”
2. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson
A very special sophomore, Watson has the Clemson Tigers sitting where very few thought they would be early this season: No. 1 overall and with a chance to take home the program’s first national title since 1981.
Heading into the season, college football fans (and likely some Clemson fans) were waiting for The Clemsoning. You know, that moment when the Tigers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the most embarrassing way possible.
Thanks to Watson, it never came in the regular season and now the Purple and Orange are the top team in the land. His stat line alone is impressive having thrown for 3,512 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.
Watson has been amazingly annoying for Clemson’s opponents. For doing so as a sophomore, this deserves some major props, but not the top spot on the ballot.
1. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey
Hey, shock and awe, the prodigy of Edward happens to be good – really good. While Henry was churning through a pack of Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game, McCaffrey was a one-man show rushing, catching and even throwing for 461 all-purpose yards against USC.
That sort of diversity has kept Stanford near the top of the rankings after stumbling out of the gate with a loss to Northwestern and a late season two-point loss to Oregon. The sophomore running back racked up 1,847 rushing yards and eight touchdowns along with hauling in 540 receiving yards and four touchdowns while throwing for a pair of scores.
That’s not a bad quarterback rating along with being the team’s leading rusher and at the top of the receiving yardage chart.
So much is lost in what the Heisman is about anymore, but regardless of what that is, this year's should go to a running back. Specifically the one that wears Cardinal and can do everything you ask of him, quite possibly including making Julienne fries.