Summarizing the Heisman Trophy chances of Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Heisman Trophy presentation is Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Key stats: 1,986 rushing yards, 23 rushing touchdowns
Why he’ll win: Henry took the lead in Heisman projections after the Crimson Tide walloped LSU and Henry outplayed the trophy favorite Leonard Fournette. At that point, it became Henry’s to lose and he probably didn’t lose it. Henry came up big in the big games with 210 yards against LSU and 189 against Florida in the SEC title game.
Why he won’t: There are plenty of players who deserve voting consideration and that could impact Henry’s vote total. Among those who weren’t invited to New York as finalists were Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. If the votes are spread thin, that could tighten the race and perhaps open the door for McCaffery or Watson.
Predicted finish: First
Key stats: 3,496 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving and returns), are 1,086 more than anybody else in college football and include 1,847 rushing yards.
Why he’ll win: Nobody in college football produced more non-passing yards for his team than McCaffrey, who broke Barry Sanders record for all-purpose yards in a season. If voters held off until after the Pac-12 title game they saw McCaffrey produce 461 yards in the victory over Southern California, one of the great performances in college football this season.
Why he won’t: Despite building his numbers throughout the season, McCaffrey had much ground to make up. Recent winners like Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston started from farther back in the hype cycle but the favorite, Henry, didn’t fade.
Predicted finish: Second
Key stats: 3,512 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, 887 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Why he’ll win: The best player on the top-ranked team applies here. Watson has posted tremendous statistics for the nation’s lone perfect team. Oftentimes that’s enough to take home the trophy. Clemson had defeated three top-team teams and Watson passed for more than 1,000 yards in those games.
Why he won’t: Watson did win the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback, but his competition (Baker Mayfield and TCU’s Trevone Boykin) aren’t Heisman finalists. Could Henry and Watson split some votes among voters in the South?
Predicted finish: Third