ABSOLUTELY … BUT SO DO HIS FELLOW FINALISTS
Clemson University quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy – joining Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Stanford all-purpose offensive standout Christian McCaffrey.
He is Clemson’s first-ever Heisman finalist for the coveted award.
Does the 6-foot-2, 205-pound sophomore deserve to win?
Yes … although both Henry and McCaffrey make excellent cases to take home the trophy.
First, the numbers: Watson has thrown for 3,512 yards and thirty touchdowns this season – and rushed for another 887 yards and 11 scores. The last player to eclipse 3,500 yards passing and 800 yards rushing? Johnny Manziel – who won the Heisman in 2012. Also Watson’s team is ranked No. 1 in the nation and is currently undefeated – something neither Henry nor McCaffrey can say.
“This could not have been done without my teammates and our coaches,” Watson said. “This is a team award as much as anything. Being undefeated and No. 1 ranked has everything to do with this.”
Watson also has wins over three teams ranked in the Top Ten of the College Football Playoff poll (Notre Dame, Florida State and North Carolina) – the only quarterback in America who can say that.
“This means a lot because I have come a long way from last year,” Watson said. “A year ago on December 12, I was recovering from surgery. I remember watching a story about Adrian Peterson and how he suffered a torn ACL but came back to become the MVP of the NFL that next year. That inspired me to work hard on my rehab.”
Henry’s argument? Well, the junior tailback broke the SEC’s single season rushing record with 1,986 yards – tops in the NCAA in 2015 – and scored 23 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. He also put up those gaudy digits against the best defenses in the country (while playing for an offensive unit with an anemic passing attack). That strikes us as a far more impressive performance than the one put up six years ago by Mark Ingram, who captured Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy back in 2009.
McCaffrey? All he did was amass 3,496 all-purpose yards this year, breaking Heisman winner Barry Sanders‘ 1988 NCAA record. In other words, Stanford’s sophomore star has accomplished something no winner of this award has ever done.
No wonder this year’s vote is expected to be the closest in Heisman history …
The winner of the trophy will be announced on Saturday with ESPN beginning its coverage of the ceremony at 5:00 p.m. EST. A total of 929 ballots are cast, including 58 by former winners of the award (including former University of South Carolina standout George Rogers, who won the award in 1980).
Of interest? While no Clemson player has ever won the Heisman, the award’s namesake – John Heisman – coached the Tigers football team from 1900-03. Also worth noting? The player who posed for the now iconic trophy design – Ed Smith of the now-defunct New York University football team – never won the award.
So: Who do you think should win? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …