Christian McCaffrey: The All-Purpose Heisman

Politics play a huge role in the world of sports unfortunately. The Heisman trophy is a prime example. While most of the winners of the Heisman are deserving, they′re are some who should have been second place. Instead they walk away with the most coveted trophy is college football because of a team they play for or conference they play in.

Derrick Henry should have finished second place to Christian McCaffrwy last year.

McCaffrey had the best season for a running back in college football since Reggie Bush. McCaffrey broke Bush′s record for most all-purpose yards, gaining 3,384 yards through rushing, receiving, and returning. Anytime a player can contribute in three different ways on the field, he is a special player. The athlete has become a dying breed in the college football world but McCaffrey′s performance last year let us know that there are still some all-purpose ball players out there.

I play for my teammates. I play for God and my family. At the end of the day, whether I win anything or don’t, that’s the reason why I play, and that keeps me motivated.
— Christian McCaffrey after 2015 Rose Bowl via Blecher Report

What made McCaffrey season so special is that he did it with a limited number of weapons around him. You figure when Bush set the record in 2004, he had an all-american group around him. Teams couldn′t just focus on Bush because you also had to worry about Lendale White; and let′s not get into the passing game with Matt Leinhart, Dwayne Jarrett, Fred Davis, Steve Smith and Patrick Turner. With Bush′s skill set, it was only right for him to run wild and destroy the college football scene.

It was different for McCaffrey though. Bush was the prototypical ″scat-back″ that works in open field and on the sidelines. Lane Kiffin, USC′s offensive coordinator at the time, did a great job of getting Bush the ball in open field, where Bush was great at. McCaffrey was Stanford′s every down back. He gained 2,019 off 336 carries in Stanford′s pro-style run offense, proving that he can run in and outside of the tackles. The next leading carrier on Stanford′s squad was quarterback Ben Hogan with 85 carries. Lendale White in 2005 had three less carries than Bush (197).

As far as receiving go, McCaffery was more prolific than Bush. McCaffery led his team in receptions (45) and receiving yards (645), catching 8 more passes than Bush and 167 more receiving yards. Surprisingly, McCaffrey also scored more receiving touchdowns than Bush, 5 to 2. Reason why it is surprising is because Reggie was a touchdown machine, most people wouldn′t guess that Reggie Bush only had 2 receiving touchdowns that year.

A lot of people wouldn′t guess that Lendale White was second on the team in touchdowns that season with 26 season. Bush only had 19 touchdowns, but he made each one of them memorable.

That is the only knock one could have against McCaffrey being named the 2015 Heisman winner, is that he didn′t score a lot of touchdowns, only finishing with 16 (two which are passing). Henry lived in the endzone with 28 touchdowns, which I think is what got him the nod over McCaffrey.

And just to be clear, my argument is not to say that Christian McCaffrey is better than Reggie Bush. I am only comparing his season to what many people say is one of the greatest season by a running back. McCaffery delivered at every aspect and even surpassed Bush in some areas. The only difference between the two seasons is that one back had a better team that reached the National Championship. Stanford was in the College Football Playoffs conversation for much of the season, but a late season loss at Oregon hurt Stanford and McCaffrey chances.

That is where the politics come in. If you put McCaffrey on Bama and Henry on Stanford with the same numbers, Henry would not be a Heisman winner. Don′t get me wrong, Derrick Henry had an incredible season – one of the best in SEC history – but McCaffrey had one of the best all-around seasons ever, with less around him.

McCaffrey is everyone′s favorite to win the Heisman this season, which could be bad for the junior back. McCaffrey now has a target on his back and it will be damn near impossible for him to duplicate his sophomore season. The best thing him being a favorite is that the politics are on his side, kinda. Leonard Fournette and Deshaun Watson are also Heisman favorites and rightfully so. Neither are all-purpose though, which is why I′m picking Christian McCaffrey to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.