Is Derrick Henry’s Heisman Campaign The Greatest Ever By a Running Back? [Poll]
While the Heisman vote wasn't a complete runaway, Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the prestigious trophy convincingly over Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, and he did so by breaking some records previously thought untouchable.
In 13 games this season, Henry has rushed for 1986 yards, a new Southeastern Conference record. Guess who held the previous record? Some guy named Herschel Walker, who also won the stiff-armed trophy back in 1982 (and that wasn't even his best season at Georgia. The season where he set the SEC rushing record [1891 yards] was the season when USC running back Marcus Allen had his incredible Heisman campaign).
Sure, plenty of running backs have had more impressive statistical seasons than Henry, but what he means to this Crimson Tide team is nothing shy of special.
He's got 2083 total offensive yards this season (rushing and receiving). You're probably saying, "That's pretty good, but guys like Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, and Ricky Williams all had more rushing yards than Henry," but what makes Henry's season stand out is that Alabama needed him this season.
His backup, Kenyan Drake, entered this season coming off a serious leg injury that he suffered against Ole Miss in 2014. He was reported as healthy, but it's incredibly difficult to fully come back after an injury like that. And unfortunately, Drake again suffered a season-ending injury this season, further increasing the load that Henry had to burden.
Behind Drake was freshman Damien Harris, and although he may be a talented back, trusting a player that young with such a vital role in an offense is tough. The emergence of freshman Bo Scarborough was a welcomed sight in Tuscaloosa, but he became eligible late in the season and he, too, couldn't be relied upon to bear much of the load.
Quarterback Jake Coker has been solid as a game manager this season, but in terms of yardage production, let's just say that there have been many more quarterbacks with more statistical production. As a game manager, he needed a reliable running back to win games.
And that is exactly what Derrick Henry did.
He has been responsible for 37.9% of the Tide's offensive output this season. Out of 5493 total offensive yards from scrimmage, Henry has put up a cool 2083 yards. In comparison, Alabama's only other Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, was responsible for only 35.3% of the production of the 2009 offense for the national championship Crimson Tide (1992 out of 5642 total yards).
Henry had a special season by any standards in 2015, but was it the greatest Heisman campaign ever by a running back?